England Under 21 manager Gareth Southgate has claimed he was amazed that Manchester United were not "inundated with more bids to prise" Jesse Lingard away from Old Trafford during the summer transfer window following his impressive Euro Championship campaign. Despite the team's failure, Lingard was of the best performers of the young Three Lyons and scored a superb goal against Sweden.
The 22-year-old versatile forward instead stayed at Old Trafford where in the last games he has managed to earn a place in Louis van Gaal's line-up ahead of the likes of Memphis Depay, providing Wayne Rooney the winner in the Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow and scoring the opener in the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 8 November.
Southgate says the youngster still has some physical growing to do, but is still surprised no other clubs tried to lure him out from Old Trafford in the summer, having spent the second part of last season on loan at Derby County after recovering from an injury he sustained during his first-team debut with United in the opening game of last season against Swansea.
"Under pressure, he performed really well and that's key for big clubs. He lives for football really, loves to train and loves to play," the Under 21 national team manager said to the FA website. "I'm really pleased to see him getting his chance now and I was amazed that they weren't inundated with more bids to prise him away in the summer, especially having played as well as he did in the Euros.
"We're not surprised, because we've liked him from the off. Physically, he's been a late developer and I think there's still some physical growth to come, but he's an intelligent footballer."
Southgate is not able to include the 22-year-old in his side any more but predicts the versatile forward will have a bright future at United as he has what it takes to establish himself under van Gaal.
"He will carry out the role he's been asked, which I think the manager [Louis van Gaal] there will quite like, and he's got a terrific work ethic without the ball," he said. "He's got clean feet, a very clean, sharp touch and likes to come in off the line, pass and follow and he's quick. He can also play as a number 10 and get in beyond the striker and he will score goals.
"So they've been very good as a club in academy terms of sticking with those late developers and I still think there's more to come. We've had a little glimpse, and I have every confidence he can go on and do even more."