Monday 14 October 2019

Pogba pushes for United departure

Paul Pogba has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Paul Pogba has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

James Ducker

Paul Pogba has admitted publicly for the first time that he wants to leave Manchester United this summer.

With United under no financial pressure to sell a player who effectively has three years left on his contract, Pogba recognises that he may have to force the club's hand to stand any chance of securing a transfer.

Real Madrid and Juventus are interested in signing Pogba but know that would be dependent on driving down United's £160 million (€180m) valuation, especially if the Old Trafford club prove unwilling to take players in return, so their cause may be helped by the Frenchman agitating for a move.

Pogba has been telling friends privately for some time that he wants to quit United but he has now decided to publicly reveal his hand in a marked escalation from his flirtation with Real in March, when he admitted it would be a "dream" to play at the Bernabeu.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, where he has been on a promotional tour with his sponsor, adidas, Pogba said: "I have been for three years in Manchester and it's been great - some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody, everywhere else.

"After this season, and after everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well... I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else."

United continue to maintain that Pogba - who has two years left on his contract with the option of another 12 months to June 2022 on the club's side - is not for sale.

Pogba's request to leave last summer for Barcelona was rebuffed by Ed Woodward and United's executive vice-chairman appears to be adopting a similar stance 12 months on.

There is also the question of who would replace Pogba. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already in the market for two midfielders.

Yet if Pogba steps up his efforts to force a transfer, Solskjaer may have to consider the risks involved in keeping a high-profile player against his wishes and the potential impact on the dressing-room.

Some of the rank-and-file members of United's dressing-room became frustrated with Pogba towards the end of last season.

Solskjaer enjoys a better relationship with the 26-year-old than former manager Jose Mourinho, whose public falling out with him last season became an unwanted sideshow, but the Norwegian has stressed that he only wants players who are fully committed to the club.

It is also unclear what Solskjaer thinks about Pogba touring Asia on a promotional tour at a time when players are expected to be recharging their batteries.

Pogba is due back in that part of the world next month when United tour Australia, Singapore and Shanghai.

Youri Tielemans, the Monaco and Belgium midfielder who spent last season on loan at Leicester City, is one of numerous players to have been offered to United but the club are not thought to be pursuing a deal for the 22-year-old. Leicester would like to sign Tielemans permanently but have been put off by his €45m valuation.


United hope to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka and talks over a deal for the Crystal Palace right-back are continuing.

United are likely to have to pay at least £50m (€56m) for the England U-21 star.

United have also been linked with Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff but the North-East club have yet to receive an approach.

United's only arrival to date is Wales winger Daniel James from Swansea City for a projected €20m.

Solskjaer remains in the market for a centre-half and United are believed to be one of four clubs chasing Leicester's Harry Maguire.

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