Jesse Lingard’s development at Manchester United has been “fantastic” and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in awe of the England international.
It was in United’s reserve team that Lingard first played for Solskjaer, when his talents as a goalscoring midfielder started to become apparent.
Although not always considered the most technically gifted, Lingard’s work rate and versatility made him an asset as a squad member and he went on to score eight Premier League goals in 20 starts last term.
Lingard has been a key player at Old Trafford this season, with his performances particularly impressive since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho last month.
The 26-year-old has provided three goals and two assists in seven starts across all competitions for the Norwegian and Solskjaer is relishing seeing a mature Lingard – who scored in Friday’s FA Cup win at Arsenal – flourish.
“Jesse’s got energy, a steel about him,” Solskjaer said before Tuesday’s Premier League visit of Burnley
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 28, 2019
“He can play in different positions; in a midfield three, up front, either side [wing], and he knows this club.
“Sometimes in training you see him and Marcus [Rashford] linking up with Mason [Greenwood], Chongy [Tahith Chong], the young kids. It’s lovely to watch.
“When he made his debut with me in the reserves, against Burnley reserves, he was a tiny little kid. He was only playing because he wasn’t picked for an FA Youth Cup game the day before.
“I’m so pleased for him; his development has been fantastic.”
Paul Pogba was in the same United teams as Lingard in the academy and reserves before moving to Juventus in 2012, only to return four years later.
It was suggested that Pogba may not have developed into star he is had he not left United as a teenager, but Solskjaer has a different take.
“I’m not sure about that, because with the top talents, most of them jump over the reserves, like Giggsy [Ryan Giggs] did,” said Solskjaer. “He went straight into the first team, didn’t play for the reserves.
“Pogba had six or seven games with me in the reserves and that was it. He probably would’ve got into the first team had he stayed, but he’s a World Cup winner and plays well for Manchester United’s first team now.”
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