Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Souness tees off on Pogba, Varane and Ronaldo, but performs U-turn on fourth Man Utd star

Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness explained why every Man Utd rival is hoping Paul Pogba will stay, though did perform a U-turn on one star amid a barrage of criticism.

Souness has been a frequent critic of many aspects of Manchester United in recent years. The Scot’s disdain for Paul Pogba has become something of a meme within the industry, though it is hard to argue that some of his criticisms weren’t without merit.

Pogba has consistently failed to live up to expectations at club level despite always excelling in the international arena with France.

The midfielder’s contract is due to expire this summer, though there has been talk of United offering a late extension.

Now, writing for the Times, Souness insisted that is something every United rival would love.

The ex-Liverpool star wrote: “If United are offering Paul Pogba a new contract, it’s surely only to recoup some of the £89 million they paid for him.

“I’d question if you want him around your club with the people who appear to be advising him.

“All United’s rivals will want Pogba to stay this summer, which is an indictment in itself, and I often wonder if it’s more about Instagram followers than giving his heart and soul to his football.

“He has been a divisive character. Before breaking the British transfer record to bring Pogba back did United ask for advice from Fergie, who previously let him leave?

“They have plainly not tapped into the experience of the greatest Premier League manager.”

Varane and Ronaldo come under the microscope

Harry Maguire is another who has been a lightning for criticism this season.

Yet instead of piling on, Souness took aim at his centre-back partner, Raphael Varane.

“Critics often focus on Harry Maguire among United’s centre backs,” continued Souness.

“But in Raphael Varane, I don’t see the same player he was five years ago, bringing me back to what the great Jock Stein said: ‘Never judge a player on memory.’

“Real Madrid tend not to let top players leave, a good example being Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.”

Manchester United need to stop with Paul Pogba

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Manchester United have offered Paul Pogba a new £500k a week contract

Souness then turned his attention to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has shown glimpses of his legendary best, most notably in the Champions League group stage and when notching league hattricks against Tottenham and Norwich.

However, Souness reckons Ronaldo is a waning force and is struggling to adapt with how the game is evolving.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has a claim to be the best player ever,” wrote the pundit.

“But is showing signs of being a frustrated figure coming to the end of playing at the highest level.

“Before he signed, I’d have made it clear he would not play every game but would have wanted him to be an example to everyone in the dressing room.

“It looks like he’s finding it hard to get that message across because of how the modern game has evolved and he can’t make the impression he wants any more.”

De Gea prompts Souness U-turn

It wasn’t all negative, however. Man Utd goalkeeper David de Gea has rediscovered his best form this season and is the clear frontrunner to be named their Player of the Season.

Acknowledging De Gea’s return to prominence, Souness concluded:  “I’ve been critical of David de Gea previously.

“But his form has been much better this season and he is arguably the one player capable of helping United get back to challenging for the Premier League and Champions League.

“I am not sure how many others the new manager will keep.”