Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has incredibly claimed that Jesse Lingard is the English version of Barcelona and Spain legend, Andres Iniesta.
No, you haven’t just slipped into some alternate dimension, you did read that right. Jesse Lingard is like Andres Iniesta according to the former Fulham boss.
Having joined the Manchester United academy aged just seven, Lingard has developed into a first team regular in the last few years, with the 26-year-old making 156 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 29 goals.
Despite his obvious talent from a young age, Sir Alex Ferguson famously predicted that he would be a late bloomer. That prediction turned out to be spot on, with Lingard finally becoming a regular in the first team at the age of 21 under Louis van Gaal in the 2015/16 season – where he would go on to score the winning goal in the FA Cup final.
While Jose Mourinho often used Lingard as a wide player, current caretaker-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has utilised the Warrington born playmaker in a more central ‘false-nine’ role.
However, while Lingard has a fine balance to his game and is extremely comfortable on the ball, we would love to have a pint of whatever Rene Meulensteen has been drinking, with the Dutchman saying he is England’s answer to Andres Iniesta – a player who has won the World Cup, two European Championships, four Champions League titles, and nine La Liga’s – to name just a handful.
“Sir Alex always had a clear picture of what a good player looked like and they had to have quick feet, quick brain, and a big heart. That is basically everything that Jesse has,” Meulensteen told 888sport.com.
“The fans need to associate themselves with players who have come through the ranks. While I was there and Sir Alex was there it was so important to keep bringing young players through.
“The difference with Jesse is that he was always the English version of Iniesta. He can play in pockets; he’s very mobile and very agile. He can beat a man and he’s good in combination play. The last few seasons he has started to score important goals as well.”