Sunday 19 January 2020

Solskjaer insists he has final say on transfers

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Paul Wilson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has played down the possibility of Manchester United spending big in the January transfer window but insisted that any players who do come in will be subject to his approval.

"I'll always have the final say on transfers," the manager said. "No one comes in the door without me saying yes. It has to be that way, even though signing players is a process involving other members of staff. I don't really speak to agents, because I have nothing to do with the money side of it, but the final decision on who becomes a Manchester United player will be mine."

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A more pressing concern is whether Solskjær has the final say on who leaves the club, with speculation rife that Paul Pogba may be on his way out next month.

Solskjær has denied that possibility, though with the France international still sidelined by injury, the suspicion remains that Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, will recommence what he started in the summer and try to engineer a move.

"All I can say is that Paul is working as hard as he can to get back and you will see him smile again as soon as he's back on the pitch," Solskjær said. "He is a Manchester United player, someone we are really happy to have in the squad and one of the best players in the world, but he needs to be fit.

"Everyone is allowed to be injured from time to time. I was out for 18 months once, and of course I attended weddings and did all sorts of different things during that period, but it was still a bad time for me because I wasn't playing football. Being out for a long time like Paul is the worst thing that can happen to a player, because everyone wants to play. It's a proper mental test for a footballer because there's nothing more disheartening."

Pogba has not played since September, and apart from footage of him dancing at a family wedding in France it is the telescopic nature of his ailment that has led to United followers fearing the worst. First it was just a routine ankle injury, then it required surgery, now Solskjær is saying it was something that needed sorting without being willing to go into any medical detail.

A few weeks ago Pogba was expected back by early December; last week it was hoped by the end of the year but, now he has been ruled out of today's game at Watford, that prospect too has receded.

"He's back in training, that's a step forward for us," Solskjær said. "I'm not going to push him. It depends how he feels. When he's fit, he's fit. Obviously it's frustrating to be without a player of his quality for so long, but it's part of football. You always want to play your strongest team but you have to plan for different scenarios. The rest of the team have stepped up and done well while Paul has been out."

Solskjær hopes to have four players back to full fitness early in the new year - Pogba, Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Nemanja Matic - which is why he is fairly relaxed about the need to strengthen in the transfer window. He may even consider the possibility of letting one or two young players go out on loan for the rest of the season to pick up game time and experience, but is wary of leaving himself short.

"There are a few players who might benefit from a few more minutes of men's football, but I'd rather have a player or two too many than not enough going into the second half of the season," he said.

"There's going to be quite a bit of rotation in the next few weeks for example, because after Watford we've got a game on Boxing Day, then a trip to Burnley after one day of rest, then Arsenal on New Year's Day before we play Wolves and then City in the cups. Players are going to need a rest."

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