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From reserve to superstar, John Lundstram is the Premier League's darling
John Lundstram is a vital member of a European-place-holding Premier League team. He’s also one goal behind that team’s top scorers, a £10 million striker and Scottish hero John Fleck. Lundstram’s rebirth (or, rather, birth) as a powerhouse midfielder is third in amazing comebacks, after only Lazarus and Jesus Christ Himself. His passing, shooting and energy have leapt a dozen levels since August, when United began playing teams that all unfortunately seem to have off days when playing us. He’s basically a new signing. Congratulations go to all of you who get their footballing information from Marty McFly and “always said he was good”. I didn’t. However, like many converts, I’m now a fully fledged cult member, more zealous in my adoration than even the original disciples of #JL7. Zinedine Lundstram has somehow developed into the complete package. I didn’t believe in ‘Premier League players’ before this season, but comparing the current iteration of the midfielder with the one huffing and puffing in League One is like a drag race between Apollo 11 and a tricycle. I’m a professional writer and just used that metaphor. That’s how addled thinking about this has made my mind. Watching replays of his goals is like watching Shergar, with more football boots and fewer kidnappings. You don’t notice his movement live, but you can almost hear him running from about the halfway line to the soundtrack of the Guinness surfing advert from the ’90s. Tick follows tock follows tick follows tock. Good things come to those who wait three-ish seasons for a player to show his full potential. In the spirit of admitting when I’m wrong, here’s a list of other things United-related about which I’ve been wide of the mark: We’re promotion certs (March 2012) Neil Warnock is the best we’ll ever be able to do manager-wise Bryan Robson has a decent managerial pedigree though, we’ll bounce back James Beattie has a cold Jordan Slew Desso
Another perhaps overlooked effect of Lundstram becoming a Sergio Busquets/ Marco van Basten hybrid is his points tally on everyone’s favourite frustrating game, Fantasy Football. The fools at Fantasy Premier League decided he was a defender - most probably because before this season he played like one in midfield. Pre-convert, he was extremely far from my thoughts. Post-convert, he’s been the first name on the team sheet. My theory is that the man himself was biding his time in the lower leagues, waiting for the biggest fantasy impact possible. Then again, it could be something as boring as astute man management and a slight change in midfield formation to a flat three, emphasising his strengths while mitigating for his weaknesses. I prefer the Fantasy Football theory. Even the still-surreal signing of European golden boy Sander Berge has only proved to galvanise Lundstram. Minutes have understandably been more limited, but when he ran to the sideline and pointed at himself after scoring against Bournemouth, I wept a single tear of admiration. That ball for Sharp against Norwich was even better. Whatever’s happened to him, if he keeps up this level of performance after the forced lockdown break, we have a new England midfielder. I’m convinced of it. He’s what Barkley was meant to be, with twice the fitness and the brutish hairline of a traditional English midfield enforcer (or bailiff). And if Fabian Delph can get a look in, John Lundstram 2.0 is going to the Euros. I’ll be there, Lundstram mask and all.