The midfielder says he is fully focused on “getting back to the old Jesse” after leaving Old Trafford until the end of the season
Jesse Lingard has explained why he took the decision to join West Ham in January, insisting “I didn’t get my chance” at Manchester United after lockdown last season.
United were happy to sanction Lingard’s departure when the Hammers enquired about a short-term loan deal last month, with the midfielder moving to London Stadium on a contract set to run until the end of the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he could no longer promise Lingard regular football at Old Trafford, but the 28-year-old claims he wasn’t given a fair opportunity to prove his worth after the resumption of football last June following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.
What was said?
Asked why he chose to undertake a new challenge at West Ham rather than stay and fight for a place in the Red Devils’ squad, Lingard told BT Sport: “First and foremost I’m here to play, win and help the team, so hopefully I can do that and we’ll see where we’re at come the end of the season.
“It’s about playing with a smile on my face and enjoying my football and getting back to the old Jesse.
“During the lockdown, I recapped my best moments playing football – the season under Jose [Mourinho] where I scored all of those goals and went to the World Cup and the season when Ole came in and I started well.
“I started getting that fire in my belly and drive again to go and kick on because it would have been easy for me to fall off and take the easy option out, but a person like me who’s been through a lot and knows the game, I can’t just give it up like and I’ll always go out with a fight.
“I came back one of the strongest and fittest (in the Man Utd squad) after the lockdown and I didn’t get my chance that I was waiting on but the whole time I was there and not playing I was doing extra training and keeping on top of my fitness for when the time was right.
“So for me, it’s about working hard and staying dedicated and I went back to basics.”
How has Lingard started at West Ham?
Lingard was handed his debut for the Hammers in the Premier League clash against Aston Villa on February 3, and made an instant impact after being named in David Moyes’ starting XI.
The United loanee scored twice in a 3-1 away victory for the East London outfit to cap a superb all-round display, which ensured that he stayed in the team for the trip to Fulham three days later.
Lingard was much quieter during the 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage, but will likely have another chance to make an impact when West Ham take on bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United on Monday.
Could Lingard earn an England recall?
Lingard has racked up 28 caps for his country to date including six at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but has not played for his country in almost two years.
Solskjaer has been among those to tip Gareth Southgate to recall the playmaker if continues to impress at West Ham, with the European Championships set to kick off in June after being postponed last summer.
Asked if he is eager to step back onto the international stage, Lingard responded: “It’s there in my mind, I have my own targets that I have wrote down before I came to West Ham and as long as I can hit them, we’ll see which doors open for me.”
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