Rene Meulensteen has compared Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard to Barcelona star Andres Iniesta following the youngster's sudden rise to prominence under Louis van Gaal this season. The Warrington-born player has been one of the Red Devils' key players in recent weeks after making a slow start to the season. He made his debut for the senior team in the Premier League midway through October against Everton, and has featured in every match since, including completing the full 90 minutes in his last two games against West Bromwich Albion and Watford.
The 22-year-old is a key player in the Dutch manager's strategy to employ speed and creativity on the wings, and the manager also labelled Lingard as one of the solutions to address their lack of goals earlier in the season. Meulensteen has now put extra pressure on the young attacker by comparing him to the Barcelona great, who recently received a huge ovation from rival Real Madrid fans following the Catalan club's 4-0 win over their arch rivals. The former Red Devils coach understands that Lingard has a long way to go to match Iniesta's achievements, but believes he is a similar player, which will be music to the ears of United fans.
"I see him as the English version of Iniesta. He has still got a long way to go but that is the sort of player I see in him," Meulensteen told the United Review, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
Lingard, meanwhile, was delighted to have been called up to the senior England squad for the first time despite the young attacker not getting any time on the pitch. Moreover, the 22-year-old was delighted when Roy Hodgson revealed to him the reason for his selection.
"It feels like [in] a month everything has changed! Apparently I was on standby [for England] but I didn't know. I got the call Saturday night and went down. I'm not going to turn that down. It's a massive honour to get called up by England and it is just a shame I did not get any minutes," Lingard said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
"It was just being around and seeing how they were doing. It was similar to here. It would have been great to have played but I'll see them next time. Roy Hodgson said I was there on merit having done well for Manchester United and hopefully I can be there," the Red Devils star added.