Paul Scholes believes Jesse Lingard will be ‘desperate’ to play for Manchester United as he backed him up to provide competition for Bruno Fernandes next season.
The 28-year-old was a revelation on loan at West Ham, scoring eight times and contributing four assists in just nine appearances for the Champions League in pursuit of Hammers, who would like to sign the England playmaker on a permanent basis.
However, the prospect of that happening right now seems unlikely, with Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting he will ‘welcome back’ Lingard next season.
“Jesse has been brilliant since he left and I have responded to that multiple times,” the Norwegian said ahead of his side’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Granada – which is live on talkSPORT 2.
“Selfishly, we could have kept him because he still has a role to play.
“Jesse is a fantastic boy everywhere, Man United from start to finish, he never moaned or gave me a problem.
“He just arrived, worked really hard and deserved a chance to play more football. That’s why we let him go to West Ham because he deserved a chance for what he has done throughout his life at Man United.
“Of course we welcome him. I hope he goes to the Euros, because with his performances now and the confidence he has, I don’t think it is beyond him.
“I hope he has a good end in the league. It was different here, the Bruno form [Fernandes] arguably played in Jesse’s privileged position.
“It was just a decision we made. I’m thrilled for Jesse and wish him the best for the rest of the season until he returns.
Speaking to talkSPORT 2, Scholes – the United legend who coached Lingard during his academy days – said the impact he had at West Ham was probably better than anyone could have imagined.
And he insists he might still have a role to play at Old Trafford.
“He had been through a difficult time at United and I think it was all due to the arrival of Bruno Fernandes,” he said in a conversation with Tracey Neville on talkSPORT 2.
“They are players in similar positions and you cannot dispute what Bruno did.
“Jesse needed to play football – he needed a chance – and West Ham gave him that chance.
“I know the quality of Jesse. I worked with Jesse when I was 18/19 as a coach, so I know the quality he has.
“His fitness was never going to be a problem even though he hadn’t played in a while, he’s so professional and in good shape.
“He was sensational. For Ole, I think it would be great to see him again to give Bruno Fernandes a little competition.
“When he doesn’t quite do it, we have a player in Jesse Lingard who is able to reach the same heights.
“His numbers since he’s been at West Ham have been as good as Bruno’s, so it’s always healthy to have some competition on the team.
“I hope Jesse is ready for this and Ole wants him to do it too.”
Pressed to see if he would return to United if he was in Lingard’s place, Scholes replied: “Of course I would. I would like to prove to myself that I can play in this team and play every week.
“It’s going to be difficult to do that if Bruno Fernandes is in good shape every week. It’s going to be tough for him, but the boy I know in Jesse is a Man United boy.
“He will be desperate to play for Manchester United. If he’s gonna give her a little more time to see [what he’s going to do] after this form he’s been in if he can come back to the team, I don’t know.
“It certainly drives up its price.”