Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho defends Jesse Lingard's lucrative new contract extension

Luke Brown
Mourinho was pleased Lingard decided to sign a contract extension: Getty

Jose Mourinho has claimed that Manchester United were caught between a rock and a hard place when it came to contract discussions with Jesse Lingard.

Lingard, who has been at United since the age of seven, signed a new four-year deal at Old Trafford on Thursday, declaring that the club “has always been a big part of my life”.

But his new weekly wage has proved divisive among some sections of the fan-base, especially considering his largely bit-part role in the Premier League this season. The 24-year-old has started just over half of United’s games, although he has appeared more regularly in the cup competitions.

Lingard has trebled his previous deal and will now earn a cool £75,000-a-week, rising to £100,000 if the club finish in the top four.

Mourinho has however claimed that United were likely to be criticised by supporters whatever their course of action – either for paying Lingard a large weekly wage or for unsettling one of the few players in their first-team to rise up through the club’s academy.

“First of all, if you don't pay, they go,” Mourinho said in his press conference ahead of United’s Premier League match against Sunderland.

“We can be criticised for paying so much, but we would also be criticised if we lost a young English player made in the academy. So the club and the player tried to find a situation that makes everyone happy.

“We're happy he's staying, he's happy he's staying and he's happy he has a much better contract.”

Lingard often divides fan opinion despite rising through the ranks at United (Getty)

Lingard is not the only high-earning younger player at the club, with 24-year-old Paul Pogba earning £290,000-a-week and 21-year-old Luke Shaw earning £100,000.

And Mourinho admitted that he does have his reservations about paying young players such vast amounts of money and that he hopes his players are surrounded by the “right people”.

“One of Manchester United's great players was telling me the other day that he was rich at the end of his career and now these kids are rich when they start their career,” he recounted.

“So it's hard and they need to be lucky to be surrounded by the right people.

“If you're rich, that doesn't mean that you don't keep motivation high, personal pride high and professionalism high.

“If they accept that financial situation in the right way, that financial situation gives stability, it gives comfort.

“Comfort gives you better conditions to become a top professional player, so it's just a question of using that financial situation in the right way.”

Mourinho has confidence his players will behave in the correct way (Getty )

Lingard has started United’s last three Premier League games, scoring in the impressive 3-1 win against Middlesbrough while struggling in the successive draws against West Brom and Everton.

He will hope to keep his place in Mourinho’s starting eleven for the trip to Sunderland, with United looking to close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester City, which currently stands at four points.

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