Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has delivered two very different visions of the future for stars Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
Solskjaer has a way of saying things a little indirectly at press conferences and you have to read between the lines to get the message.
The first of those messages was delivered at the Norwich City pre-match press conference when asked about Pogba’s future at Old Trafford.
‘Yes we are looking to keep Paul here and we are looking to keep the best players here anyway.
‘You want to give Paul the chance to get 100 percent fit and back to his best. He has been out for so long, but I think it says everything about the quality of the boy in his performances.’
Solskjaer suggested that playing alongside Bruno Fernandes has helped to inspire Pogba as a Manchester United player.
‘I am certain that they can play well together because they have proven both in training in the games when they play together that it’s exciting,’ the Norwegian said.
‘I don’t think you can ever question Paul’s professionalism. He is a very very professional boy and he lives his life the right way. He wants to be the best he can be.’
Then came Ole’s hinted reveal – the ‘Ole-ism’ – that Pogba wants to play at a club where he believes he can win the world’s best competitions:
‘He knows he’s a special talent and he doesn’t want to, in five or ten years’ time, look back and think I didn’t make the most of it.
‘He is already a World Cup winner. He has won things with Juventus and us so I’m not surprised by his enthusiasm and dedication to us.’
It may be inferred from these comments that Champions League qualification and positive activity in the transfer market would go a long way toward Pogba committing his future to the club.
The Norwegian also fielded a question about Jesse Lingard and his response this time delivered a veiled warning wrapped inside a lot of positive spin.
‘He has come back after the lockdown with a smile on his face and loads of energy,’ the boss said.
‘Last week he fell ill for a couple of days but we have done all the tests and he’s fine. He will be involved against Norwich now.
‘Hopefully he can kick on. He has scored vital goals for us, and has been a vital player for us.’
And then came the Ole-ism:
‘Let’s see what the future will hold. At the moment he is looking really sharp and focused.’
This statement clearly suggests that Lingard is unlikely to feature in the manager’s plans for next season as things stand.
With the England international entering the final year of his contract, Lingard is clearly in the Last Chance Saloon at Old Trafford. United will not want to see him leave on a free next June so unless he can produce performances that convince Solskjaer to change his mind, he is unlikely to still be a Manchester United player next season.
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