Although now in the fifth season of his second spell with Manchester United, Paul Pogba continues to make headlines and not always for the right reasons. Since he returned to Old Trafford from Juventus for a reported £89,000,000 in 2016, there has been plenty of speculation about him leaving again.
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola may be largely behind the gossip column inches about departing the Red Devils. After all, he wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t talking and hyping up his client.
The latest twist in this ongoing saga doesn’t come from Raiola, but Pogba’s national team coach Didier Deschamps. A former Chelsea midfielder himself, the France manager has questioned the current situation regarding Pogba and his place in United boss Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s plans.
“He’s in a situation with his club where he cannot be happy,” Deschamps said of Pogba at a press conference. “Neither with his playing time, nor his positioning. He’s not in his best period, he’s had a series of injuries and needs to find his rhythm.
“With me there’s no such concern. When a player is in discomfort in his club, obviously, he is happy to play for France. He’ll tell me about his feelings and, as I know him very well, it’ll go in a positive direction.”
These quotes are the latest mixed messages about Pogba, who said during the October international break that it would be a dream to play for Real Madrid in the future. Later that same month, United took up a one-year option and extended his contract until the summer of 2022.
Is that because they feared losing Pogba for nothing at the end of the current season? For what it’s worth, La Liga giants Real may need to replacing long-serving midfielder Luka Modric whose current deal expires after this campaign.
Pogba has overshadowed, upstaged even by winter window signing Bruno Fernandes who joined United from Benfica in January. The Portugal midfielder seems a much easier to manage type, does his talking on the pitch rather than in the press and is already developing into a dressing room leader at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer has been prepared to play both Pogba and Fernandes together, but what that means tactically is at best they have to take it in turns to get forward and support the attack. Getting the balance of the team right has been tricky at times.
While Pogba and Fernandes are there at the same time, though, United will always be strong in the football markets and sports betting 888 offers with odds of 2/1 about them repeating last season’s Premier League top four finish. Winning either the title or the Champions League seems a bit of stretch, however, at 25/1 apiece.
The way that those advising Pogba do business, super-agent Raiola in particular, mean the noise is probably never going to die down entirely. He wants his client almost permanently in the shop window, and the appeal of becoming a Galactico at Real Madrid playing under Zinedine Zidane is obvious.
Pogba could learn plenty from Zizou, perhaps the greatest of all in France’s previous golden generation, at the Bernabeu. Before it’s all said and done, United fans should be prepared for more chat about his future.