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Rangnick makes ‘extraordinary’ Pogba observation as Man Utd return nears; issues Ronaldo update

Samuel Bannister

Paul Pogba is back in training for Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick has already seen “extraordinary” things from the midfielder, the interim manager says.

Man Utd have been without Pogba since the start of November due to injury. After he contributed seven assists from his first nine league appearances of the season, his absence has been a blow.

Pogba was not available for the final stretch of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure as manager. Nor has interim replacement Rangnick been able to call upon him yet.

But the return is getting closer, with Rangnick confirming Pogba is back in training and already impressing.

He said at a press conference: “Paul Pogba had his first day of training with the whole group yesterday and in the first training session he showed what an extraordinary player he could be.

“Pogba won’t be available for selection in either of this week’s games, though.”

While Pogba has been away from the pitch, talk of his future has not quietened. His contract expires at the end of the season; United would have to invest heavily again in terms of wages to keep him.

It is a matter beyond Rangnick’s control, so he wouldn’t comment on Pogba’s contract. He did look ahead to his upcoming return on the pitch, though.

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Rangnick replied: “I don’t know. I can’t answer, I’m not dealing with this.

“What you could see from the very first day in training yesterday, he’s present, he’s physically present, he’s mentally present. What I saw in training yesterday was very promising for the future and I’m very much looking forward to having him available in two weeks’ time after the international break.”

Two other players who have had physical issues recently are forwards Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rangnick is optimistic he will be able to call upon them sooner, for Wednesday’s game against Brentford. But he is waiting until after Tuesday’s training to make a judgement.

Man Utd manager Ralf Rangnick greeting Cristiano Ronaldo

He said: “Cristiano and Marcus were training yesterday, so I suppose they will also be training today. But at the press conference before the Villa game, I was also convinced that Cristiano would be available and in the end, he wasn’t.

“It was the same with Marcus, so we have to wait for the training session today. Right now, I think both could be available.”

Rangnick responds to Ronaldo importance

United will need to maximise what they can get from Ronaldo. This week, he received a special award from FIFA after becoming the all-time top goalscorer in men’s football history in 2021.

Asked about building the team around Ronaldo, Rangnick said: “One does not exclude the other, of course.

“What he has done in his career so far is amazing. 800 goals in competitive games, no one has achieved that before in the last 80 or 100 years and this shows what kind of player he is – what kind of exceptional player he is.

“He was not available in the last two games. He trained yesterday and will probably train today again and then we will have to see whether he’s an option for Brentford.

“Even with an outstanding Ronaldo, we are talking about a team sport in one of the most competitive leagues in the world – if not the most competitive – and he can’t do things on his own. We can only improve and get better as a team and he’s one important member of the team.”

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