Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has confirmed that Mason Greenwood being arrested on suspicion of assault of rape (BBC News) impacted the potential outgoing of midfielder Jesse Lingard.
After letting Anthony Martial join Sevilla, Donny van de Beek join Everton and Amad join Rangers, all on loan until the end of the season, the Red Devils must find a way to manage their squad for the remainder of the campaign.
One player who was also expected to secure a late move away was Lingard.
However, following Greenwood’s shocking arrest last Sunday, Lingard’s proposed move to Newcastle United was blocked.
With his contract set to expire in less than six months time, the English midfielder will now be forced to see out the remainder of his deal at Old Trafford.
With January’s transfer window now closed, Rangnick, who is now preparing his team for an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough confirmed to reporters on Thursday that Greenwood’s legal issues did directly impact Lingard.
“Three weeks ago, Jesse didn’t want to leave,” Rangnick said, as quoted by MEN. “Then he changed his mind. I had a chat with him 10 days ago and I could fully understand why he wanted to leave, to get game-time for his future and the World Cup. And I said to him at the time if he finds a club he would like to play for and the club find a solution with our club I would let him go and allow him to leave.
“Obviously, with all the developments in the last couple of days, things changed a little bit. On the other hand, we also had no agreement with any other club and we had to take a final decision with the board, and we decided to rather keep Jesse until the end of the season.”
When pressed for an answer on if Greenwood’s arrest meant Lingard’s presence was required, Rangnick said: “In a way, yes, but in the end, the club told me, the board told me, they couldn’t find an agreement with any of those clubs that were interested in him. With the window closing on Monday evening, in the afternoon the board informed me they would rather he stay, and this was a decision I could fully understand and accept.
“So it was two things: we had a problem with Mason Greenwood and being without a player for the time being who has played regularly in the last couple of weeks and the club not finding an agreement with another club.
“Jesse asked me and the club if we could give him a couple of days off just to clear up his mind. He will be back in the group next Monday, back for training and then be part of the regular squad again.”
When Rangnick asked if Greenwood’s arrest had been a ‘distraction’ in training, he said: “In fact, we had a good and normal week of training with five training sessions, including today’s training. Obviously, I suppose it was a topic within the team but they’re all human beings and Mason was part of the group before we had our break.
“As I said, it was a good week of training, we could train under normal circumstances and we are looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
United are set for a big second half of the season as they compete on three fronts, including trying to secure a spot inside the Premier League’s top-four.
Lingard will, of course, play a part, but fans will be wondering just how big a part that will be and whether or not he’ll be given the chance to impress in time for this summer’s Qatar World Cup 2022.