Paul Pogba’s future at Manchester United is always the subject of discussion in the media and social media and as his contract moves closer to entering its final year, speculation is starting to build once more.
The picture often painted is that of a club desperate to keep a player who is desperate to leave, often fuelled by comments from Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, such as ‘I hope [United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] does not want to suggest Paul is his prisoner’.
At Thursday’s Leicester City pre-match press conference, Solskjaer said ‘of course, we’ve got discussions and talks’ but The Telegraph claim they have inside information that the Red Devils are yet to make any kind of formal contract offer to the Frenchman.
‘Since his agent, Mino Raiola, declared in early December that Pogba was unhappy and wanted to quit Old Trafford at the end of the season, United have seen a marked upturn in the Frenchman’s form and attitude, which has raised the prospect of him signing a new contract,’ reporter James Ducker writes.
‘Pogba is due to enter the final 12 months of his existing £290,000-a-week deal this summer but United are believed to have been given some encouragement that the midfielder is now open to staying and have been heartened by his attitude and application behind the scenes.
‘That has yet to extend to Pogba being presented with a new formal contract offer and the player – who celebrated his 28th birthday this week – may have to offer a clear statement of his commitment to the club before the situation progresses further.
‘But the outlook has changed from those weeks before Christmas when Pogba looked to have reached the point of no return at Old Trafford.’
Ducker then goes on to suggest that it would be in United’s interests, but not necessarily those of Pogba, to resolve the situation before this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament.
‘A strong finish to the season with United and impressive Euros for France would boost Pogba’s value at a time when the pandemic has narrowed the current options available to him.’
Whether it is media speculation or fact, evidence suggests that neither party is 100% sure of how they want to proceed. You get the sense – also supported by Raiola’s words – that Pogba would stay if he believed he would win silverware at United. The club, for their part, would gladly offer him a new deal if they felt he would knuckle down and consistently produce the type of performance that won the Europa League clash with AC Milan for them on Thursday.
In truth, neither side can be blamed for their stance and the next few weeks could be telling in terms of the direction this one is likely to go. Pogba’s dream destination, Real Madrid, is almost certainly off the cards. Due to their own financial problems, they will have to prioritise their summer signings and Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are ahead of Pogba in that regard. Juventus are always keen to bring the 28-year-old back, but they would need to offload Cristiano Ronaldo’s massive salary in order to make room for that of Pogba. Realistically, that only leaves PSG and if Pogba wants to leave for silverware, it is unlikely that a Ligue 1 trophy is going to be what he had in mind.
Given that Pogba can’t be forced to accept a transfer this summer, he may simply cut a deal with Real to join them in 2022 and see out his contract at Old Trafford next season. This would be the worst case scenario for United and one that the club must avoid at all costs.