Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stressed his desire to keep unsettled midfielder Jesse Lingard at the club, despite the player looking increasingly likely to leave the club.
90min understands that the latest round of contract negotiations with Lingard, whose current deal expires in the summer, have ended without a resolution and a potential January exit is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
Lingard's reluctance to extend his stay at Old Trafford stems from a feeling that promises over his game time have been broken. The 28-year-old has featured just eight times in all competitions so far, with only one of those outings lasting more than 25 minutes.
Solskjaer was asked about Lingard's future in Friday's press conference, and while he admitted he understands the midfielder's frustrations, he insisted that the door is not closed to Lingard.
“Jesse is training really hard, really well, and he’s ready and available for me,” the boss said (via the club's official website). “He’s definitely disappointed he’s not played more, of course.
“But with regards to contract situations, I’ve not been in the talks very closely, so for me Jesse’s still a big, important part of this squad. He gives energy and quality to the group every day.
"Every player wants to play as much as possible. The thing with Jesse and all my players is they are working hard. I can’t fault the attitude and they’re ready when they’re called upon, when they’re playing.
“Jesse has done well when he’s played for us. He knows that with all the games coming up, that he’s going to play a part.”
Shortly after those comments came out, Lingard made a not-so-subtle statement of his own. He took to Instagram to post a picture of himself in a West Ham shirt, tagging the Hammers for good measure. Make of that what you will.
West Ham, with whom Lingard shone on loan last season, remain interested in a move for Lingard, but the Hammers have plenty of other targets in mind - including Sparta Prague starlet Adam Hlozek - and are not guaranteed to move for Lingard.
The options for Lingard in January are not yet clear, but there are plenty of sides across the continent keen to explore a possible free transfer in the summer.
As first revealed back in July, Lingard is being tracked by Atletico Madrid, while AC Milan and Barcelona are also keeping a close eye on the situation.