Saturday 25 January 2020

'I don't think he's en route here' - Solskjaer denies reports Haaland due in Manchester but states Pogba staying

Erling Haaland impressed during two Champions League games against Liverpool (Kerstin Joensson/AP)
Erling Haaland impressed during two Champions League games against Liverpool (Kerstin Joensson/AP)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied reports suggesting Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Bruat Haaland is on his way to England for further talks over a move to Manchester United.

Haaland looks set to be one of the big-name movers in next month's transfer window and after United officials staged a meeting with Haaland in Austria last week, Norwegian reports on Friday morning confirmed the teenage striker and his father Alfe-Inge had boarded a plane in Stavanger destined for Manchester.

Solskjaer was quizzed about his interest in Haaland once again on Friday morning and was predictably evasive in his answers as he stated with a smile: "I don't think he's en route here, to be fair. Not through me anyway!

"You know I can't comment on other teams' players, I've said that many times and it's one of those things in this job you get speculation a lot of the time."

When pressed by Norwegian reporters on whether he would be meeting Haaland and the United training ground, Solskjaer used his knowledge of Norwegian flight routes to deny the story.

"He's not coming to Manchester," he added. "I know the boy and I know his friends and he's on a Christmas holiday. You can't fly anywhere from Stavanger, you need to go via, via (other airports)."

Haaland is set to make a decision on his future imminently after offers to stay in the Red Bull family by moving to Leipzig and additional bids from Italian giants Juventus and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

Leipzig chiefs confirmed they were hopeful of signing Haaland earlier this week, but his eagerness to play under his former Molde boss Solskjaer may be a decisive factor in negotiations over a deal that could go through on January 1st.

Solskjaer also rejected suggestions that Paul Pogba has played his last game for the club, as he insisted he would not be leaving Old Trafford in the January transfer window.

Pogba made it clear that he wanted to leave United last summer and he has not played a competitive game since September 30th, with injuries and now illness apparently ruling him out of action for an unspecified period.

While Solskjaer admitted he didn't know when his French World Cup winner would be ready to return, he was keen to dismiss reports in a UK newspaper on Friday morning suggesting the 26-year-old would leave United next month.

"He's not getting sold in January," stated Solskjaer. "When he comes back and plays well, with a smile on his face, he is a great player. Paul has been fantastic when he's played for us and we've got one of the best players in the world, when he plays, gets fit.

"Let's see how he feels, I'm not gonna push him, of course. What he feels, his ankle, we need him to be 100% fit. I can't risk any setbacks on injury. There are all these hypotheticals, I've just answered: he's not gonna go.

"He's not been training with us for long. He's training and that's a step forward for us. He's a fantastic player, a charismatic personality and for us, we're happy that he's here.

"It (the injury) was something that really needed sorting but I don't think I should give you all the medical information but he's now feeling good and getting better, it's worked."

Video images of Pogba dancing at a wedding earlier this month fuelled perceptions that his unspecified injury may not be as bad as first feared, with Real Madrid head coach Zinezine Zidane still believed to be keen to bring the midfielder to Spain after an aborted transfer effort last summer.

Meanwhile, Solskjaer went on to suggest he is hoping to make signings in the upcoming transfer window, as he laid out his criteria for the type of players he will target.

"As a manager, you always hope that you can do something but then again it’s not something that's nailed on," he added. "It has to be the right player. Right age, gonna fit into this squad and for the right value. We're always looking and the transfer window is open, but it might not happen."

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