Rene Meulensteen has hailed Jesse Lingard as England’s answer to Barcelona and Spain icon Andres Iniesta.
The Dutch coach worked for the Manchester United first-team during the final six-and-a-half years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden career and helped bring Lingard through the youth ranks at Old Trafford.
Across recent weeks, the 26-year-old has impressed greatly under interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the Norwegian praising him for “fantastic” development earlier this week.
Lingard has managed three goals and two assists in seven starts since his former academy boss replaced Jose Mourinho in December.
And now Meulensteen is the latest to praise Lingard, who he believes not only has all the qualities that Ferguson valued most in a player but shares many similarities with Spanish midfield maestro Iniesta.
“Sir Alex always had a clear picture of what a good player looked like and they had to have quick feet, quick brain, and a big heart,” Meulensteen told 888sport.
“That is basically everything that Jesse had but he was very slight for his age. I worked with him from the age of eight or nine, taking him abroad for tournaments. He was always having to fight battles because he was tiny in build.
“But all things level themselves out and eventually those three things make a difference – quick feet, a quick brain, and a big heart. And he has done ever so well.
“The fans always need to associate themselves with players who have come through the ranks.
“While I was there and Sir Alex was there, it was so important to keep bringing young players through.
“The difference with Jesse is that he was always the English version of Iniesta. He can play in the pockets, he’s very mobile and very agile.
“He can beat a man and he’s good in combination play. The last few seasons he started to score important goals as well.”
Lingard will hope to continue his solid run of form in United’s trip to the King Power Stadium on Sunday in a Premier League match against Leicester City.