Paul Pogba’s future as his Manchester United contract enters its final year has been plunged into more uncertainty today as two overseas managerial decisions could both have a profound effect on developments.
The Frenchman has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford several times in recent years, with most rumours revolving around Real Madrid and his former club, Juventus.
His most ardent admirer at Real was head coach and countryman Zinedine Zidane, who reportedly worked hard on president Florentino Perez to sign him.
However, in the last 24 hours Zidane has resigned from los Blancos for the second time.
This leaves the 28-year-old’s ‘dream’ move – as he once called it – in tatters, especially as he was already believed to have dropped below Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland on the transfer wish list.
Meanwhile in Turin, head coach Andrea Pirlo has been sacked and replaced with Massimiliano Allegri, who managed the side from 2014-2018, when Pogba was there.
There was no apparent malice when United took the midfielder back from the Old Lady in 2017, with Allegri saying at the time ‘”The club did an extraordinary deal from a financial point of view…I wish him a big “good luck’”.
However, before Pogba left, Allegri warned him against doing so, and in 2019 when the Frenchman’s name was once again linked with the Turin side, the Italian referred to the idea as ‘fantasy’, saying ‘I think that a return of Pogba to Juventus is very, very unlikely… I think it will be really hard to see Pogba come back.’
Mixed messages, perhaps, none of which prove that, deep down, Allegri would not welcome ‘the Octopus’ back with open arms. But there is at least a hint in his words that he is not the kind of man to look backwards.
With Real and Juve potentially out of the way, Pogba is running short of suitors this summer. In a recent interview, his brother Mathias flirted with the idea of him joining Barcelona but their financial situation makes that seem quite unlikely.
It seems as if there will be two options for the World Cup winner this summer. He can sign a new contract at United, or he can wait a year and leave on a free contract. The latter is a gamble, because by then he will be in his 30th year and unlikely to command the kind of salary – or even, attract the type of club – that he will feel is in keeping with his talents.