Pogba has continued to figure as the primary scapegoat for Manchester United’s late-season slump in form and remains open to joining Real Madrid, who came close to signing him in 2016. The Frenchman has always liked the idea of playing in Spain. His continued maltreatment from the media and even the club’s support may well push him towards a new challenge.
Man United supporters have likewise lost patience with Romelu Lukaku, whose credentials at this level are under question following a season where he only managed 15 goals in all competitions and, perhaps more pertinently, lacked maturity in possession. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to some reports, does not believe the Belgian suits his long-term plans. A move to Italy – where Lukaku has plenty of suitors – is very much on the cards.
Solskjaer harbours similar doubts over Anthony Martial, whose attitude and form has taken a significant downward spiral since the Frenchman was handed a new contract in January. Jose Mourinho wanted him sold last summer but Ed Woodward, who values Martial as a commercial asset, overruled the manager. Solskjaer, it seems, is encountering the same frustrations over the 22-year-old’s mercurial attitude.
Alexis Sanchez, it seems, has been largely written off. Solsjaer has not – and cannot – come out with this but, for my money, the Norwegian strikes me as a manager who does not believe that anything good can come out of this truly disastrous move, which halted Man United’s attacking momentum in 2018 and has ruptured the balance of their wage bill. The transfer was a mistake. Solskjaer knows that. Continued injuries have precluded the forward from playing at the required tempo this season and pretty much every supporter wants to see the back of him this summer. Like Lukaku, clubs in Italy are interested.
Finally, we come to De Gea, whose situation is more complicated than the others. Talks over a new contract have been underway for over a year and the Spaniard feels a connection to Man United, a club he has served since 2011. However, the current deal on the table – which would make De Gea the best keeper in the world – has not been accepted by the goalkeeper’s camp, with certain concerns existing with regard to agent fees. United are not willing to budge, which could mean the Spaniard leaves for free when his contract expires at the end of next season.
United’s lack of clout in negotiations due to the ridiculous wages handed to Alexis Sanchez – part of why they lost Ander Herrera – could well mean their best player leaves for free.