Meulensteen likens Lingard to Messi

Former Manchester United youth coach and assistant manager Rene Meulensteen believes Jesse Lingard’s physique will not prevent him from fulfilling his potential as he has the quick brain that has helped diminutive players like Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta become key figures at Barcelona.

Meulensteen was recently already quoted as saying that Lingard has the potential to become “the English Iniesta” and the Dutchman has now explained why he feels the 22-year-old midfielder has a bright future.

“People say Jesse is small because of the perception of how the Premier League is,” Meulensteen told the official United website.

“But look at players like Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, David Silva and Juan Mata. They’re all tiny, but it doesn’t make a difference if you have a quick brain, quick feet and a big heart – and Jesse has all of those. He’s bright, he’s got great ability and skill.

“I always said to him: ‘Watch as many Iniesta clips as you can’, because I see Jesse as the English version of Iniesta. He has a long way to go, but that is the sort of player I see in him.”

Lingard has developed into an important first-team member at United in recent weeks, making nine appearances in all competitions this season.

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