Manchester United 2020/21 Season Loan Watch: Attackers

by Colm Murphy
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring for West Ham

In our latest loan watch review of the 2020/21 season we are looking at Manchester United’s attackers.

If you missed the defenders or midfielders reviews then click here.

Jesse Lingard

After minimal appearances in the first half of the season Jesse Lingard joined West Ham in January.

In a bid to escape his personal struggles in recent years, the move to London was a chance to start afresh in a new scenery for the Warrington native.

A fresh start it certainly was, as Lingard was straight back to his best marking his debut with a brace against Aston Villa. The England international picked up the man of the match award and received plaudits including from Toby Cudworth of the 90th min who said “9/10 – A superb performance on his debut, shaking off any ring rust with a terrific two-goal showing. Plenty left in the tank, too, which is testament to his tremendous fitness.”

Lingard’s blistering form continued as he finished the season with nine goals and five assists in just 16 appearances, often capitalising on the amounts of space opponents afforded to him in attack. A stark contrast to the deep compact defensive lines he would come up against in a Manchester United shirt.

In the form of his career, the United academy graduate found himself back in the England squad after nearly a two year absence. Upon his international call up in March, manager Gareth Southgate had to say “his performances for West Ham have been excellent” and “there is no doubting his quality.”

Recognition for his form didn’t stop there as Lingard picked up his first ever Premier League player of the month award as well as the goal of the month to go with it.

Despite his resurgence in form, Manchester United fans are not looking for the 28 year old to return to Old Trafford.

However, the outlook is different inside the east London club. Speaking about the possibility of Lingard staying in London, David Moyes said “I hope Jesse’s here [next season], we’d like to keep him, he’s done an exceptional job for us but there’s no guarantees, he’s not our player.”

It is not only the manager Lingard has won over, but also his new teammates. When asked about Lingard signing for West Ham, Declan Rice said “I hope he does. I really hope he does. He has changed the squad completely.”

With West Ham extremely keen to keep Lingard, a summer move away from Manchester looks certain with just the financial side of any deal to work out.

Tahith Chong

Having struggled to force his way into the first team the former Jimmy Murphy and Denzil Haroun player of the year award winner joined Werder Bremen of the Bundesliga in August.

Impressing in pre-season the young winger became a social media hit for the German club and became the centre of a weekly #Chongtent.

However, the positivity did not last long as the competitive fixtures started as Chong found himself mainly settling for substitute appearances.

Playing limited minutes in across the front line and even once at left-back, the Dutch youngster showed talent but struggled with the physicality and speed of the game, showing the inconsistent and erratic flashes which have been seen in his time in Manchester.

After picking up 15 appearances, scoring one and assisting two, Chong seeked to move on, cancelling his loan in January in search of more playing time.

Upon his departure Werder Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann had to say “Tahith has an enormous amount of talent and potential, which he has displayed time and time again playing for us. However, we have always emphasised that it will take time for him to start fulfilling this potential on a consistent basis.”

Subsequently, Chong signed for Belgian league leaders Club Brugge where he got off to a productive start with a goal and four assists in his first month at the club.

Unfortunately, despite the assists Club Brugge fans were left unconvinced and questioned his physicality and maturity. Manager Philippe Clement seemingly agreed as Chong received only one start in the final two months of the season.

Finishing off the season with 13 appearances for the Belgian club, mainly from the bench, the youngster did manage to get his hands on the Belgian Pro League trophy. Combined with Werder Bremen getting relegated, the winger ended with a rare feat of achieving a league trophy win and relegation in one season.

Looking to the future, Chong’s contract with United expires in 2022 with the option for a further year. While still slowly getting to grips with senior football, it is not clear if United will be patient and look for another loan or prefer to move the youngster on permanently this summer.

Facundo Pellistri

Having joined Manchester United in the summer of 2020, the Uruguayan winger spent the first half of the season impressing with the u23s. Unable to break into Ole’s first team, the club decided it would be best to get experience on loan and he joined Deportivo Alaves in January.

With the side in the midst of a relegation battle, the style of football was a cause for struggle at times for the youngster. One notable example was in his first start, when he only attempted three passes in 66 minutes and picked up a mere 14 touches on the ball.

Despite the limited time on the ball though, the youngster ingratiated himself to the supporters who were impressed with his energy and directness in attack.

After a run of starts, a knock picked up midway through his time in Spain saw him miss three matches. After that, Pellistri’s appearances came mainly from the bench and he ended the season having made 12 appearances in total.

Despite not getting on the score sheet during his time in Spain, the young winger helped the club stave off relegation and in the process has left a lasting impression at Alaves, with the club and fans wanting a return.

One supporter said on twitter “Pellistri gives it a thousand turns, both in quality and desire. I would like to see Pellistri next season here from preseason. The kid looks very good.”

Recent reports suggest the fans may get their wish with Alaves already requesting for him to return next season. Interest seems to be growing elsewhere though, with other La Liga clubs also keen on taking the teenager on loan.

Whichever club is ultimately chosen, it is looking certain that the Uruguayan will be spending another year gaining experience away from Old Trafford.

Stay tuned for our last feature covering United’s keepers on loan, coming soon.

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