Paul Pogba’s future remains shrouded in doubt despite the fact that Manchester United recently triggered a one-year extension to his contract.
However, all will need to become clearer by June, as if United have not tied him to a new contract by then, they will be keen to sell him to avoid him leaving for free 12 months later.
And right now, with the Frenchman regularly benched by United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one destination is emerging as the most likely for him next summer.
Ironically, it is the club that Pogba joined for free when his previous United contract was allowed to lapse that has once again emerged as favourites – Italian side Juventus.
‘The Red Devils took [the extra] time [on Paul’s contract] in the hope of completing the actual renewal, the multi-year one,’ says Italian outlet Tuttosport.
‘There is no great rush from the circles close to the world champion and many believe that the Frenchman will leave Manchester United at the end of the season.
‘United would certainly like to extend Pogba’s contract, but would not want to replicate the sumptuous agreement signed in 2016.
‘There are at least three clubs that are following the evolution of the negotiations … with Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain, there is also Juventus.’
Of the three, Juventus looks by far the most likely to offer Pogba a deal.
Real’s interest is in truth, simply head coach Zinedine Zidane’s interest, with President Florentino Perez understood not to be a huge fan. And at present it is touch and go as to whether Zidane will keep his job at the Bernabeu after an indifferent start to the season.
Pogba is also likely to be at highest third on Real’s shopping list, as they have made their intentions to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga clear. Given the financial constraints caused by COVID-19 and Pogba’s high salary expectations, all-in-all, the Spanish ship appears to have sailed.
PSG could certainly afford to bring Pogba back to his home city, but most reports suggest he would prefer to play in a tougher league.
This brings us back to Juventus. Pogba’s former side have always been keen to bring him back and a year playing alongside Ronaldo could well appeal to him. As they will be in the last chance saloon in terms of a sale, United would have to drop their £80 million-plus asking price – perhaps to as little as £50 – £60 million – a figure Juventus should be able to afford.
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola also enjoys a fantastic relationship with Juventus, which could be crucial in negotiations.
Of course, there is still time for United to persuade the Frenchman to stay at Old Trafford, although Pogba himself recently said he had not even been approached by Ed Woodward.
It may well be that with a plethora of riches now in midfield, the Red Devils are more disposed to let the player leave and use the transfer fee to strengthen elsewhere.