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Lingard denies asking for time off after move fell through

LONDON (AFP) – Jesse Lingard has disputed Ralf Rangnick’s claim that he requested time off to help clear his head after Manchester United blocked his move away from the club during the January transfer window.

Newcastle, West Ham – where he excelled on loan last season – and Tottenham were among the suitors for the 29-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, but United decided to keep him at Old Trafford.

Rangnick revealed on Thursday that the frustrated England midfielder had been granted a short leave of absence and missed FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough yesterday.

But Lingard said it was the club’s decision to grant him time away and that he was ready to play if called upon.

“The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons!” he tweeted. “But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 per cent.”

Lingard’s rebuttal comes after Anthony Martial – now on loan at Sevilla – last month contracted Rangnick’s claim he refused to be in a match squad, saying he would “never disrespect the club”.

Rangnick said the situation regarding Mason Greenwood was partly behind the decision to keep Lingard for the rest of the campaign.

Greenwood, who was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of the rape and assault of a woman, has been released on bail pending further investigation and remains suspended by United.

Rangnick likened Lingard’s situation to that of Paul Pogba, whom the interim boss has previously suggested could be motivated by the chance to earn a new deal elsewhere.

The France World Cup winner, 28, who is also out of contract at the end of the season, is set to return to action after three-month lay-off with a thigh injury.