Jesse Lingard (file pic). PA

Jesse Lingard denies asking for time away from Man Utd after move fell through

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder has hit back at Ralf Rangnick’s claim.

JESSE LINGARD HAS hit back at Ralf Rangnick’s claim that he requested time off to help clear his head after seeing a January move blocked by Manchester United.

The wantaway 29-year-old attacking midfielder is out of contract this summer and has been the subject of widespread speculation.

Newcastle, West Ham – where he excelled on loan last season – and Tottenham were among the suitors, but the club decided to keep Lingard until the end of the season.

Rangnick revealed the frustrated England international has since been granted a short leave of absence and will miss Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough.

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

He said on Twitter: “The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons!

“But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 per cent.”

The interim United boss had earlier said: “He asked me and the club if we could give him a couple of days off just to clear up his mind.

“He will be back in the group, I suppose, next Monday, back for training and then be a regular part of the whole squad again.”

Rangnick revealed that 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.

“Three weeks ago Jesse didn’t want to leave,” Rangnick said. “Then he changed his mind.

“I had a chat with him some 10 days ago and I could fully understand why he wanted to leave to get game time for his future, also for the World Cup.

“I said to him at the time in case he finds a club where he would like to play for and also the club finds a solution with our club, I would let him go, I would allow him to leave.

“Obviously with all the developments we had in the last couple of days, things changed a little bit.

“On the other hand, we also had no agreement with any other club, so at one stage we had to take a final decision together with the board and we decided to rather keep Jesse until the end of the season.”

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

The 28-year-old midfielder is also out of contract this summer and will return on Friday from a three-month lay-off with a thigh injury.

“I’m happy to have him back in the squad,” Rangnick said. “He might be playing from the start tomorrow.

“His best possible position is, for me, one of central midfield positions – either an eight or a 10, but the way that we are currently playing I rather see him in the eight position.

“Yeah, we will have to see. It’s up to him now. His contract is expiring in the summer and no matter if in the end he would like to stay or go somewhere else, he has to show up.

“It’s not only in the interest of us as a club, also in his personal interest that he plays and performs on the highest possible level in the next couple of weeks.”

Rangnick is due to start a two-year consultancy role with United this summer after finishing his interim stint as manager.

Asked if he was recommending or even urging the club to sort a new deal with Pogba, he said: “We haven’t spoken about that at all so far – not only about Paul’s situation but also about other players with contracts expiring in the summer. We also didn’t speak about new players so far.

“As I said, my focus now is to play the best possible season that we can, be as successful as we can be and, for Paul, it’s in his own interest to play on a high level, to have a good performance tomorrow and do everything to get into the first XI.

“This will not automatically happen because we have other players in that area. Fred has been doing well in the last weeks since I arrived. We reduced the amount of goals that we conceded.

“It’s up to him. In the end, the players themselves decide who will be in the starting line-up. The group is smaller now but still strong enough and competitive enough to be successful.”