The last time we have seen Paul Pogba take the field in a United jersey was back in November. The Frenchman played 68 minutes in a 2-2 draw against Atalanta in the Champions League. Pogba picked up a thigh injury during a training session with the national team. The injury sidelined him for effectively 3 months. Manager Ralf Rangnick has now revealed that the World Cup winner has been ruled out for an additional month. The latest setback only piles on the uncertainty regarding the future of Paul Pogba at Manchester United.
Since signing on a record £93.2 million fee in 2017, Pogba has consistently been linked with a move away from the club. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG and even Manchester City have been linked with the Frenchman. In 2019, Pogba explicitly even stated that he was ready to leave Manchester in search of greener pastures.
With his contract at United expiring in June 2022, the uncertainty still looms over the future of Paul Pogba. Currently, in his 6th season with the Red Devils, Pogba has accumulated 38 goals and 46 assists. In comparison, he had 33 goals and 31 assists in just 4 seasons with Juventus.
The Frenchman has largely been used in the wider areas over the past year or so. This move was mainly to accommodate the stellar Bruno Fernandes, and to an extent, worked well. In 9 Premier League games, he already registered 7 assists. However, after a bright start to the season, Pogba tailed off. He lost his place in the starting XI, as Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford or Mason Greenwood were integrated.
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The Sun reported that United were willing to offer Pogba a wage of £500k-per-week, with a base wage of around £400k. This would have made the Frenchman the highest-paid player, not just in the team, but in the whole league. This represented an effort from United to retain the services of the talented midfielder at all costs.
Moreover, United are refusing to sell Pogba in the January transfer window. They believe their offer is comfortably higher than any other suitor will be willing to table. Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are all interested parties according to rumours.
However, another twist in the saga took place when a spokesperson for the Frenchman denied any such offer. A statement to Sportsmail read:
“To clarify media reports, Paul has not been offered a new contract in recent months. Paul is fully focused on his recovery from injury with the aim of helping the team as soon as possible”.
Meanwhile, it has been reported by Sky Sports that the 28-year-old is currently focused on getting fit and returning to action. Although he is allowed to discuss a pre-contract with any foreign club, Paul Pogba will wait till the end of the season before deciding on whether he wants to stay at United or move elsewhere.
It is understandable to an extent that United want to retain Pogba’s services. The biggest signing in their history, it would be thoroughly embarrassing if a £100 million investment was allowed to leave for free. Even more so, when Pogba has failed to perform consistently for even a single season. Over the last 6 seasons, Pogba has missed over 80 games due to injuries, while his performances, when fit, have also often left a lot to be desired.
Pogba’s quality remains unquestionable. On his day, he is one of the best midfielders in the world. He has remained a mainstay with the French national team over the last 8 years now. His vision, creativity and control are qualities other midfielders in the squad do not possess.
However, he has done little to warrant the wages that are being reported. He has been in and out of the starting eleven under several managers. There has been a sense that even the fans have run out of patience with his sustained inconsistency.
But the biggest argument against Pogba would be that he has already been replaced. Bruno Fernandes has established himself as one of the most important players at the club, and arguably, one of its best signings in recent memory. Fernandes and Pogba play in very similar positions. Given their lack of defensive awareness, it also becomes impossible to fit both of the players into their natural roles for the team.
Also, Fernandes, unlike Pogba, has maintained consistency and a certain level of professionalism since his transfer. Furthermore, Donny van de Beek continues to languish on the bench. The Dutch midfielder can also play Pogba’s role as a creative midfielder quite well.
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When Manchester United do appoint a permanent manager, it is more likely than not, we will see a formation different from a 4-2-2-2. The French midfielder can be a very useful fit in Rangnick’s set-up. He is very good at playing from the half-spaces with runners ahead of him. However, in a different set-up with more focus on using the wings, United have better players ahead of the ex-Juve man. Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood can all play in the wide areas, while Bruno is ideal for the playmaking role behind a centre-forward.
For a player who could well find himself surplus to requirements, it would not be sensible for Manchester United to commit the astronomical wages that are being reported. Instead, the best option may be to clear space in the first team to sign players in positions that require reinforcements. For now, the future of Paul Pogba at United hangs in the balance and it might not be solved before the end of the season.
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