Manchester United have been tipped to sell Paul Pogba at the end of the season as it has been claimed the club has accepted that he does not want to sign a new contract.
Pogba agreed a five-year contract when he first arrived at Old Trafford from Juventus in 2016 for what was then a world record fee of £89m. United recently triggered the option they held to extend that deal by another 12 months until 2022.
But if no new contract is agreed, despite positive talks looking likely during a resurgence for player and club in ‘Project Restart’ over the summer, United run the risk of losing Pogba as a free agent at the end of next season if he refuses to sign fresh terms, unless they sell.
Agent Mino Raiola has already publicly threatened United with that possibility in his explosive recent interview with Tuttosport in which he claimed Pogba is ‘unhappy’, insisted it is ‘over’ for him in Manchester and talked up a transfer away in 2021.
“He needs to change team, he needs a change of scene. He has a contract that expires in a year and a half’s time, in the summer of 2022, but I think the best solution would be for him to leave in the next transfer window,” Raiola controversially said.
“Otherwise, the club from Old Trafford, with whom he has a good relationship, know very well that they risk losing him on a free transfer, considering that right now he does not want to extend his deal.”
Since Raiola made those comments in early December, United have climbed from eighth in the Premier League table up to second and are currently level on points with leaders Liverpool on the same number of games – Liverpool will play again on Monday, giving United a game in hand.
Pogba has also been playing 90 minutes regularly for the first time this season.
The player’s return to a regular place in the team is testament to his more consistent performances, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issuing a general warning in the last few days that no player is guaranteed anything and passengers will be quickly dispensed with.
“I think we have competition for places, which means you cannot go around and think you can fake your way through being part of this team. You only deserve to be in a team that you contribute in,” the United boss said in the wake of beating Wolves.
But despite improved performances and admirable application, the Daily Mirror claims there is an acceptance from within the club that they must sell Pogba at the end of the season to recoup at least some of the investment they made back in 2016.
Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are put forward once more as the interested clubs who could enter a bidding war and potentially drive the price up.
But there is at least some reason to believe that Pogba to Real in particular, which is his personal ‘dream’, is an impossible dream because there isn’t enough desire from anyone at the Bernabeu other than coach Zinedine Zidane to make it happen.
PSG interest has also been quashed because the club intend to offer new contracts to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Juventus have been positioned as the ‘only’ realistic option for Pogba, but even they may have to make financial concessions and have been linked with selling Cristiano Ronaldo.