Paul Pogba: Man Utd star stays for now but Real Madrid wait in the wings
Spaniards expected to try and lure Pogba to the Bernabeu next June
Paul Pogba has known all along that he wouldn’t be leaving Manchester United this summer, claims the London Evening Standard.
The paper says the French midfielder was aware that “no suitor would be able to come up with a figure to convince United to sell” with the Red Devils allegedly setting Pogba’s transfer fee at a whopping £150m.
That didn’t prevent Pogba issuing a series of ambiguous statements throughout the off-season, such as his desire to seek a “new challenge” and the comments uttered by his agent Mino Raiola about Real Madrid.
But the Standard says it was all smoke and mirrors on Pogba’s part with him having already “confided” to his inner circle that he expected to remain part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad for the 2019-20 season.
And thereafter? The Standard says that another factor behind Pogba’s reasoning was the realisation that Real Madrid - for all the positive noises coach Zinedine Zidane made about signing the midfielder - didn’t have the funds to prise him from Old Trafford.
Having spent heavily on Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Eder Militao in the summer, the Spanish giants won’t be in a financial position to make a play for Pogba until next summer at the earliest.
Braced for a bid
United are ready to make the French World Cup winner a lucrative new contract offer but they are “bracing themselves” for a concerted effort from Real to lure Pogba to the Bernabeu in June.
He will then have two years to run on his five-year deal, which includes the option of a further 12 months, and the Standard says United will have to decide whether to endure more endless transfer speculation or look to cash in on their prize asset.
Sparks could fly
According to Metro, Solskjaer has been “irritated” by Zidane’s public courting of Pogba, but so far he has managed to maintain a good relationship with the French playmaker.
That might not be the case with Zidane should he get his hands on Pogba next season.
Franck Sale, the man who recruited Pogba as a teenager at Le Havre, says that while he believes he will sign for Real it could see sparks fly at the Bernabeu.
“If Paul has a coach with a strong personality around him, in time there will be a clash somewhere,” Sale told Optus Sport.
“If tomorrow he goes to a big club like Real Madrid, he’ll still have his conflicts, even with Zizou [Zidane].”