Wednesday 22 May 2019

Revealed: Paul Pogba determined to force Man United exit as he clashes with Jose Mourinho over Instagram post

Training ground spat with Mourinho adds to speculation over France star's future at United

Pogba's social media message posted shortly after Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United was hastily deleted. Photo: PA
Pogba's social media message posted shortly after Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United was hastily deleted. Photo: PA

James Ducker

After the collapse in Paul Pogba's relationship with manager Jose Mourinho was laid bare during an extraordinary training-ground confrontation, it was revealed the midfielder informed Manchester United's hierarchy that he wanted to leave more than seven weeks ago.

Pogba is determined to quit United for Barcelona regardless of whether Mourinho remains as manager, and the deepening problems between the pair were played out in front of the television cameras at the club's Carrington training ground yesterday morning.

Mourinho rounded on Pogba after apparently being enraged by an Instagram video of the Frenchman and Andreas Pereira laughing at team-mate Luke Shaw as they watched United's Carabao Cup penalty shoot-out defeat by Derby on Tuesday night.

The United manager stopped Pogba in his tracks as he ran on to the training pitch by reputedly asking the player if he was "happy" they lost, before dragging over a club press officer and demanding to know when exactly Pogba posted the clip as a tense, prolonged showdown ensued.

Mourinho was also said to have been heard shouting "Paul, get out", but United denied claims the manager had told the player to leave training.

The remarkable footage - which had attracted two million views on social media within an hour of being released by Sky Sports - followed Mourinho's confirmation on Tuesday that he had stripped Pogba of captaincy duties after the club's record £89m signing told him he wanted to go.

Pogba actually went to see Ed Woodward before United's opening game of the season against Leicester City at Old Trafford early last month to explain to the club's executive vice-chairman that he wished to join Barcelona after his agent agreed personal terms with the Spanish giants.

Woodward made it clear to Pogba that he would not be sold, but, with his relationship with Mourinho at an all-time low, Barcelona seem increasingly likely to test United's resolve in the January transfer window.

Mourinho had told the United squad in the hours before the Derby defeat, when their troubled season took another turn for the worse, that Pogba would no longer wear the armband.

The manager had also been angered by Pogba's criticism of his tactics in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Wolves at Old Trafford.

But Mourinho's claims that there was "no fall-out at all, no problems at all" between the pair were heavily undermined by yesterday's clash in training.

A bubbly Pogba was filmed running out to training but, after high-fiving assistant coach Michael Carrick, the midfielder stopped abruptly when Mourinho appeared to ask the player if he was "happy" United lost after they exchanged a cursory handshake.

Pogba initially scowled in disbelief before giving Mourinho a puzzled look as the pair then became embroiled in a heated exchange before the midfielder walked off while forcefully nodding his head.

The spat continued in front of coaching staff and other players.

When Pogba stood his ground and started gesticulating with his arms after Mourinho was heard purportedly shouting "Paul, get out", the manager called over club press officer John Allen and appeared to ask: "When did Paul post that, post that Instagram?"

After an animated conversation between the trio, Pogba marched off, nodding his head and he was later spotted shrugging his shoulders at team-mates.

United would not divulge any details of the conversation. Pogba's Instagram post is thought to have been published shortly after the shootout defeat, with poor Wifi reception at Old Trafford reportedly blamed for the video going out then, rather than in the first half when United were leading 1-0.

Pogba's frustration with Mourinho is shared by a number of senior players at United and it is understood there is no animosity towards the Frenchman from the squad over his wish to leave.

Mourinho's claim that he knew United would be "in trouble" the moment Phil Jones stepped up to take a penalty that the defender ended up missing did not go down well with players and was cited as another example of the Portuguese's willingness to publicly throw players under a bus.

Sources close to two players said it was ironic Mourinho said he wanted players to show more fight when at times he showed little appetite to fight for them in public and few can understand what the manager feels he has to gain by deriding individuals in such a way.

Woodward is now under growing pressure to find a way of ensuring the situation between the club's two biggest personalities does not become more corrosive than it already is.

He refused to entertain the idea of selling Pogba in August and the prospect of losing a player the club put so much effort into re-signing would be an acute embarrassment, not least given the travails of other high-profile recruits in recent years, such as Angel Di Maria.

Barcelona are keeping a close eye on developments, although it could take a fee similar to or greater than the £ 142m they paid Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho last January to prise Pogba away.

Asked if he could deny that Pogba had told Mourinho of his desire to leave United and join Barcelona, Mino Raiola, the player's agent, declined to answer yesterday.

Woodward refused to bow to Mourinho's wish to sell Anthony Martial in the summer and would not let Pogba go lightly.

Whether a change of manager would improve United's prospects of keeping Pogba is unclear but it is a moot point for now, with Woodward backing Mourinho.

Dimitar Berbatov, the former United striker, believes it is time Mourinho and Pogba settled their differences.

"As someone who wants Manchester United to do well, I'm fed up of waking up and seeing these headlines,"

Berbatov told Betfair. "Football should be about what happens on the pitch, not who has the biggest d***. It's a stupid situation."

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