Sources inside Old Trafford have revealed what really happened between Paul Pogba and José Mourinho that led to the Portuguese manager leaving the club.
Pogba’s future at Old Trafford has been the subject of much controversy since the 2018 World Cup, when Mourinho made comments that reportedly damaged the relationship.
The problems between the two came to a head in December 2018, when Mourinho famously referred to the Frenchman as a ‘virus’ at the club.
And The Athletic today have confirmed what many have suspected for some time: that the club’s executives ultimately had to choose between one or the other.
‘For the first time that during that summer, after the World Cup, [Pogba] told Woodward of his desire to seek a move to Barcelona,’ reporter Laurie Whitwell explains.
‘By December, the situation was beyond repair. High-level sources state United’s decision was between selling Pogba or sacking Mourinho.’
The Athletic’s source believes that whilst sacking Mourinho may have been correct given his own increasingly poor relationship with the club, Pogba should have been sold then as well.
‘As much as anything else, it would say to the dressing room, “Nobody gets rid of a Manchester United manager. He’s not won the argument”,’ the source said.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney claims that the Frenchman’s issues started further back still and in fact that he was never really that keen to rejoin United in the first place.
‘If Paul Pogba had his way, he would be back at Juventus as early as January. In fact, he’d probably never have left,’ the reporter claims.
‘The only reason he went in 2016 was because the £90m was transformative money for Juventus…
‘Sources who know Pogba maintain he was never that keen on returning to Manchester United at all, an issue which is at the root of many of the current problems.
‘Back in the summer of 2016, the midfielder’s order of preference in potential clubs was Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, United and this weekend’s opponents: Manchester City.’
So what next for Pogba? January seems a tall order for a move unless a swap deal can be negotiated. Juventus remain the most likely destination but their wage bill is understood to already be too high. Rumours of a swap deal for Cristiano Ronaldo seem far-fetched and especially unlikely halfway through a season in which the Portuguese superstar will be aiming to win his sixth Champions League medal.
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