Gary Neville defends Jesse Lingard's new £100k-a-week contract
Ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville has defended his former side's decision to award winger Jesse Lingard a new £100k a week contract which will keep the England international at Old Trafford until June 2021.
Lingard, who joined Manchester United's youth academy at the age of seven, has received widespread criticism for his new deal on social media, with critics highlighting that the 24-year-old's new financial terms exceed the current salaries of players such as Sadio Mane, Isco, Christian Eriksen and Paula Dybala.
Neville quickly defended United's decision to extend the Warrington native's new deal and encouraged fans to get behind the academy product.
Lingard divides opinion, but goals in two cup finals, England caps etc. Deserves new deal.— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) April 6, 2017
Who does he divide opinion with? https://t.co/zGXFLtyACh— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 7, 2017
United fans ? https://t.co/1Mh56mWbxD— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 7, 2017
They aren't United fans really. They can't be if they are against a kid that's been at the club since he was 7. https://t.co/5r0hY1h8Ag— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 7, 2017
Mmmmm no. Give every kid that's been there a long time a contract if the manager agrees? https://t.co/ze329Z9a61— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 7, 2017
Two separate points.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 7, 2017
1.Jose gave him the contract? Have a go at him?
2. Homegrown lad being selected for the first team. Get behind him! https://t.co/2yRKsAjXYa
Meanwhile manager Jose Mourinho agreed with Neville and stressed that he believes Lingard can still improve as a player, a stark contrast to his statements last week in which he lambasted the attacking quartet of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Henrik Mhikitaryan and Lingard following his side's 0-0 draw with West Brom at Old Trafford.
"No, I think he is a good player already," Mourinho said when asked if Lingard was different to any preconceptions.
"And because of his age and because of his happiness in the work, I think he has conditions to be even better.
"Apart from that, English, made in the academy - very important for the club these players made at home - so it is a very important contract.
"And I congratulate him and obviously the board to agree with him and to give this stability also for me because it is important for me to know that he is not in danger, that he is in a situation under our control."