Jesse Lingard 'rejects' contract offer as Man Utd strategy at risk of backfiring
The 28-year-old remained at Old Trafford despite being heavily linked with a move away during the summer transfer window and is in the final year of his contract after enjoying a fruitful loan spell with West Ham last season.
That means Lingard could hold all the cards when it comes to negotiating his future, potentially able to leave for free next summer and prevent the Red Devils from receiving any cash for his services.
He could sign a pre-contract agreement with any club from January, while United valued the academy product at £25 million over the summer as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to keep him around.
ESPN report that Lingard has turned down an approach from the club, instead keen to ensure he is given regular first-team opportunities before making his decision on whether to stay or go.
West Ham were interested in his regaining his signature during the window but the Irons signed 23-year-old alternative Nicola Vlasic on deadline day for a similar fee to what was demanded by Ed Woodward and co for the England international.
Gareth Southgate handed him a start with the Three Lions on Sunday and he rewarded his national boss with two goals and one assist in England's 4-0 victory over Andorra at Wembley.
Despite his lack of appearances, Solskjaer has Lingard still has a "big part" to play for his team throughout 2021-22.
"I think Jesse’s first priority is to get into our team. I think whenever your employer is Man United, I think that’s your first priority and always is," Solskjaer stated.
"I think we, together, can have great moments. Of course, as a manager, with players in a squad like I’ve got now, it’s difficult. It’s difficult to say that ‘this weekend you’re not playing’.
The Norwegian continued: "Of course, I have to leave players out, never mind from the starting XI but from the squad. But they all have to remember and know they’re going to have to play a part if we’re going to be successful.
"Jesse is back to his fitness," he added. "He’s come back bubbly and in good shape. He’s got a big part to play."
Lingard himself is looking forward to teaming up with new Red Devils signing Cristiano Ronaldo, whom he emulated as he celebrated his first goal for the Three Lions on Sunday.
The United midfielder revealed of the celebration: "Me and Mason [Mount] were thinking of celebrations this week and obviously we mixed my celebration with Cristiano’s I said I’d do it.
"Yeah it’s a little welcoming gift [for Ronaldo] but yeah he’ll settle in quickly he’ll help this team brilliantly."