“Whenever you’re late, make others wonder if they can handle your success if you came on time” by Vignesh S couldn’t have picked a more perfect person to describe than Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard.
In fact back in 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson lamented that “He[Lingard] is going to be some player, He is 19, came through our youth system and is built like Jean Tigana was for France.”
“But he never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard.” he said.
For the longest time, Lingard has been subject of divided opinion by Manchester United fans and critics all together, with majority of them being of the opinion that the now 25-year-old isn’t good enough to be a dawn the famous red badge. And while fans may love to hate him the truth of the matter is that the Englishman has become United’s most important attacking player.
Sure Lingard is no Anthony Martial who will dazzle through defenders like mingling sticks or a Lukaku who is powerful with killer instincts or perhaps as creative as Mata, Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne – who has the premiere league fans at the edge of their sits but what the Englishman offers is much more than a killer pass, a shot on goal or a dazzling dribble.
While the whole world doubted his ability, Sir Alex, Louis Van Gaal and now Mourinho appreciate his all round talent. The 25-year-old has turned into the ultimate modern attacking midfielder, a maestro of some sorts with the ability to find his teammates in tight areas as well as execute quick link-up play which makes him one of the biggest defending conundrum in the country.
Of course, it wasn’t always Jesse “Messi” for him, Lingard along with Michael Keane was sent out on loan to Leicester during the 2012/13 season and then to Birmingham City the following campaign even after showing glimpses of maturity. At the time, he was 22 – at the same age, Lionel Messi had already won a Balon D’or, his best mate Pogba three Serie A titles.
Not to say that Lingard compares to these world wonders but at age 22 a football player is usually well established in a team and according to Fergie, the manchester united attacker was always poised to be a late bloomer.
“He will become a player when he’s 22 or so. As an attacking midfielder he has got a really good talent. I think he will be a player we have high hopes for, definitely.”
Lingard has now carved himself a place in United’s starting Line up, a place that even the arrival of Alexis Sanchez will not threaten, if anything just make the red devils a joy to watch.
The pacey attacker understands that his movement off and on the ball and his hawk vision gift him the ability to attack space and press teams high make him formidable, something that comes with age and maturity.
With 12 goals already up his sleeves this term in all competitions its safe to say Lingard has found his feet and is one of the most underrated players plying in England at the moment, enough to earn plaudits as the “English version of Iniesta” according to his former coach Rene Meulensteen.