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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United boss hoping winning Europa League can be club's 'next step'

Solskjaer confirms Jesse Lingard will start against LASK and backs the midfielder to show his "better side"

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says winning the Europa League this season would be 'massive' for Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says winning the Europa League would be a “big step forward” for Manchester United and believes it could have a similar effect to the club’s first Premier League triumph in 1993.

Solskjaer is searching for his first trophy as United boss after falling short in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-finals this season.

United take a 5-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Austian side LASK on Wednesday and are expected to ease through to a quarter-final meeting with either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen.

United's last piece of silverware came in the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017, and Solskjaer hopes winning the competition this year can reignite the club's hunger to win titles.

"It's massive," Solskjaer said. "You could see that when Sir Alex won the Premier League for the first time.

"For me personally, when I won my first trophy as a player, it made me hungrier because you saw the highs of it.

Image: Solskjaer is desperate to end his side's three-year wait for a trophy

"As a coach, I won the league with Molde and that was the first time for the club in their 100-year history. Since then, we have won it four times in nine years. It was a big change for that club

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"For this team, if we can get our hands on a trophy, it is a big step forward. We're delighted with finishing third [in the Premier League] but the next step for this team is getting our hands on a trophy.

"We've been to two semi-finals, in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, but we want to win something."

Ole: We'll see a 'better side' of Lingard

Jesse Lingard is the first to admit his performances this season have not lived up to his or United's expectations.

He has had to be patient to earn a spot in the side, but took full advantage with a goal in the final day win over Leicester last month.

Jesse Lingard celebrates with teammates after doubling Man Utd's lead
Image: Jesse Lingard celebrates with teammates after scoring United's second in their final day win at Leicester

"I know I've not had the best of seasons and during lockdown I wanted to come back in the best shape possible to impress the manager," said Lingard.

"A goal gives you confidence and I can't wait to play the next game and try to impress.

"Every minute that I play, whether it be five, ten or half an hour, I have got to try and impress and do as much as I can to help the team."

Jesse Lingard at Manchester United training session
Image: Lingard feels he is back on track at United after a difficult few months off the field

Solskjaer confirmed Lingard will start at Old Trafford against LASK on Wednesday and hopes the midfielder once again takes his chance.

"You saw how much [Lingard's goal] meant to everyone," Solskjaer said. "Jesse is such an infectious lad in and around the group. He's always in a good mood, even hiding his own troubles.

"We know how much it meant to him. He's had a great finish to the Premier League season but now it's about kicking on and I'm sure we're going to see a better side of Jesse."

Jadon Sancho has returned to Borussia Dortmund training
Image: Solskjaer made no mention of the club's talks with Jadon Sancho but said 'every transfer takes it course'

Solskjaer: Every transfer takes it course

The United boss was giving nothing away when asked about any potential early transfer window activity at Old Trafford.

As Sky Sports News reported on Monday, United are close to agreeing personal terms in principle on a five-year contract with Jadon Sancho, while talks are progressing on a settlement which is thought will see Alexis Sanchez leave on a free transfer to join Inter Milan.

Asked about their activity, Solskjaer said: "This transfer window is a long one and every transfer takes it course. It is what it is.

"At the moment, I have no updates for you. If there is any news, we will update you."

Transfer Talk podcast: Poker and double-bluffing in Sancho deal

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Raphael Honigstein told latest Transfer Talk podcast: "There's absolutely no doubt he would be a huge improvement on what they have, especially if you think of the traditional importance of width in the United team. Wingers that would get the crowd excited and those who take on players, whip in crosses and score themselves - all these things Sancho will do.

"The stats for a 20-year-old are unbelievable in terms of the goals he's scored and assisted last season in a pretty talented Dortmund team. The flip-side to this conversation is that Dortmund want to make a very careful calculation which is similar to the one Leverkusen are making for Havertz.

"Manchester United are still saying they are just in talks. It's a bit murky where both sides will try to get the best possible deal. There's a lot of poker and double-bluffing going on but it's now down to United to say 'here's the money'."

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