L’Équipe report in tomorrow’s newspaper that French international midfielder Paul Pogba’s departure from Manchester United “appears to be programmed” for this summer.
The 26-year-old French midfielder did not mince his words after his side’s 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park against Everton in the Premier League. Owing to Manchester United’s precarious position in the Premier League table and the fact that it is looking difficult to assure Champions’ League football for next season, Paul Pogba is asking himself more and more questions about the future of the club itself and his own.
And the answers that he is reaching for appear more and more evident: a departure is being seriously envisaged. Two and a half years after his return to Manchester, the world champion has undergone a series of contrasting emotions: from euphoria in Russia to total breakdown in communications with José Mourinho to another high as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived, before the Red Devils’ form took another nosedive.
Ambitious as ever, the former Juventus man is dreaming of credibly fighting year after year for the biggest prize in Europe: the Champions’ League. The return of Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager pricked up Pog’s ears, with ZZ flirting openly with the Manchester man: “I know him personally, he is a truly different player. Few players can bring as much as he can. He is one of the midfielders who knows how to defend, who knows how to attack… He knows how to do it all. I like this player a lot, that is not new.”
This love affair is not new – already, during the 2015/16 campaign – Zidane made the trip to Turin to have lunch with Pogba to try to convince him to come to Madrid. At the time, there were tensions between Florentino Perez and the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, which hampered the transfer.
But since then, these two men have pacified their relationship and the agent is welcome once again in the Spanish capital. At the last international break, Pogba was asked about Real Madrid:
“To play for Real Madrid is a dream for any child, for every footballer. Now, I am happy in Manchester.”
That happiness has since drifted away following the recent turbulence in the Champions’ League & indifferent Premier League form.
Pogba has told certain team-mates that he desires to go elsewhere – he only has 2 years left on his current contract at the end of the season and the Manchester club has not made any steps towards seeking to extend Pogba’s current deal.
They consider that they have also been loyal to him during his tensions with Mourinho and that the Frenchman should not forget that. Apparently because they will not block him if an offer from Real comes in, per the French outlet. But, after having invested €105m into him, they would prefer for his departure to come this summer, rather than next, when his value will have diminished and when he will have just 1-year remaining on his deal in June 2020.
Pogba also knows that he cannot take too much longer making his decision. The clubs that are interested in signing him are few and far between: Real Madrid, and PSG, who have always had an eye on him, are today the only two clubs truly capable of offering him the footballing and financial project that he desires, although the latter side may well be hamstrung by Financial Fair Play.
A return to Juventus, where he played from 2012 to 2016? Not on the agenda.
Barcelona? They really wanted to buy him last summer, but Manchester United were firmly opposed and since the acquisition of 21-year-old Frenkie de Jong for €86m from Ajax, a deal seems impossible.