Paul Pogba on board for trip to Australia but he is determined to force through a move to Real Madrid
Paul Pogba ended the doubt surrounding his involvement in Manchester United's pre-season tour by flying with the rest of the squad to Australia yesterday, despite his determination to join Real Madrid.
Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, had claimed on Friday that he was unsure if the France midfielder would be on the flight to Perth, as he reiterated his client's desire to leave Old Trafford.
However, any fears that Pogba might not show up were quashed when the Frenchman reported to United's Carrington training base yesterday morning and was later pictured arriving on the team coach at Manchester Airport along with his team-mates.
Pogba cut a serious figure as he collected his bag off the coach and declined to engage with a fan who tried to take a picture, looking straight ahead as he walked purposefully into the terminal.
It is thought that Pogba only returned on Saturday from New York, where he was on a promotional tour with Adidas, as well as doing some personal training that included sprints through Central Park.
Another player who is hoping to secure a move from United this summer, Romelu Lukaku, was also on the flight, as were new signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.
Pogba's inclusion in the squad is a boost for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and averts the threat that the start of the tour would be overshadowed by the player.
Solskjaer will still face questions about Pogba when he addresses the media in Perth on Wednesday, but the manager and club would have faced a bigger problem had the player not joined the tour.
Pogba admitted last month that he wanted to leave United to seek a new challenge. His remarks - and Raiola's subsequent comments - were not well received by United and exasperated Solskjaer, who has talked about building his team around the club's £89 million record signing.
United maintain that Pogba is not for sale and neither Real nor Juventus - his two main suitors - have yet to get close to making an offer that might tempt the club.
United value Pogba at around £160m and are determined not to be dictated to, despite the risks that come with keeping an unhappy player who is such a key figure on and off the pitch.
Pogba had been granted more time off and allowed to report back later than other team-mates, who had returned for pre-season training last Monday.
Solskjaer's challenge will be to ensure his situation does not overshadow the pre-season, and that he can keep Pogba focused, all the more so if he is to stay.
Fred and Matteo Darmian are due to join the tour later, for family reasons, but Alexis Sanchez, who has been competing at the Copa America with Chile, will not take part.
Academy graduates Axel Tuanzebe, Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, James Garner and Angel Gomes have all travelled.
United are due to play Perth Glory and Leeds United in Western Australia before heading to Singapore, where they are to face Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup.
From there, United travel to Shanghai to face Tottenham Hotspur in the ICC.