Paul Pogba is reportedly eager to stay at Manchester United, in the latest turn of events surrounding his uncertain future.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Frenchman sees his long term future at United and even plans to extend his current deal. He currently has two years remaining on his current deal, and it was widely accepted that he was set to leave the club in the summer. United themselves had given up hope and planned to put him on the market in order to avoid a repeat of the 2012 saga, where they let him leave to Juventus for free.
Pogba himself admitted to wanting a ‘new challenge’ on an Adidas tour last summer. After fall outs with former manager Jose Mourinho and a section of the United fan base, coupled with the club’s failure to secure Champions League football, there really seemed to be no reason for him to want to stay. So why the sudden change of heart?
The excuse being laid out in the media is that Pogba is impressed by the impact of new signing Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP and believes he can form a solid partnership with him in midfield. Truth be told, there is nowhere else the Frenchman can go.
Real Madrid have been Pogba’s most likely destination for quite some time. The player has flirted with the club on numerous occasions, and Zinedine Zidane never passed up an opportunity to praise his countryman in the media. They were even spotted together once – an incident that has been dismissed as mere coincidence. It seemed to be just a matter of time before he would bid adieu once more to the club whose academy he graduated from, in favor of a move to Spain.
Manchester United had other ideas though, and were not going to let him go easily. While they accepted his desire to leave, they were keen on making a profit on the then record fee of £89 million they paid Juventus to sign him in 2016.
The English giants reportedly slapped a £130m price tag on him, and that completely changed the scenario. With two years still left to run on his contract, United are holding firm on their stance and it put off all interested clubs, including the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and of course, Real Madrid. Florentino Perez even went as far as to ask ‘Who is Paul Pogba?’ in a recent press conference, and it wasn’t received well by the Pogba camp.
In a way, Pogba has no choice but to stay at United due to the lack of clubs willing to meet his asking price. If he does stay though, the club have got to lay down some strict ground rules to avoid a repeat of anything that has gone on over the last 4 years. It is without doubt a bonus for United to be able to hold on to their best player, but they cannot be as forgiving of his antics as they have been in the past.
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Firstly, United have got to make it clear that no player is bigger than the club. It has often seemed as if Pogba has taken his place at Old Trafford for granted, and made it seem like he didn’t need the club and could leave whenever he wanted to. You’re either fully committed to the club, or you’re out the door.
Secondly, something has to be done about Mino Raiola. Pogba’s agent is an absolute nuisance and is a huge part of the reason the player is so unsettled at the club. The Italian is the whole reason the 26-year-old left the club the first time round, with Sir Alex Ferguson labeling him ‘a s***bag’.
He is constantly yapping on social media about United, criticizing the club’s legends and even went as far as having a very public spat with current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after posting a long rant on his Instagram page about the United boss. He is an extremely frustrating figure to deal with and United have to find a way to shut him up if Pogba is to sign an extension.
A fully committed Paul Pogba is easily one of the best players in world football. If he genuinely wants to stay and put United’s ambitions ahead of his, then by all means, sign him up. If he isn’t, and things are just going to repeat themselves, then it would be best for the club to sell him and move on given that clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or PSG do manage to cough up the needed funds to take him off our hands.