Rio Ferdinand has urged Manchester United to do all in their power to replace Paul Pogba with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez should the troubled Frenchman be moved on when the transfer window reopens.
Pogba moved to Old Trafford from Juventus on a five-year deal in 2016 and the Frenchman has become a divisive figure in his second spell at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old has largely failed to live up to the talent he showed in Turin and his campaign this season has been plagued by injuries, last starting a match in September.
Pogba has been heavily linked with a move back to Juventus and to Real Madrid in recent months but United could look to extend his contract by a further year until the summer of 2022, in a bid to protect the valuation of the player as an asset but still with the view to move him on.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he still expects Pogba to still be a United player next season, saying this after their last match, a 5-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.
“Paul’s our player,” Solskjaer said.
“He has two years left on his contract, a year plus the option of another. You can expect Paul to be here [next season], yeah.”
However, despite publicly claiming Pogba will still be at the club next season, it’s widely reported the club’s patience with him has worn thin and a decision has been made that it would be in the best interests of all parties that he is moved on.
According to widespread reports, Solskjaer plans to reinvest the funds generated from his sale towards signing a replacement, with Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish – valued at around £70m – reported to be his most realistic target.
However, if the World Cup winner does leave in the next transfer window then Ferdinand wants to see Man Utd go for Atletico’s Niguez, who was linked with a £135m move to Old Trafford on Monday.
Ferdinand told a live Q&A on Instagram: “I don’t want Pogba to go but if he does go I’d take Saul Niguez all day long. Not like-for-like but still a top player.
“What a player. I’ve been harping on about Saul Niguez for a few years now.
“I think he’s a major player. He’s composed, calm, great left foot, lovely conductor, he can score goals, tactically he’s very aware. You can see [Diego] Simeone, he gets his teams really well set up and he’s in the middle orchestrating and dictating things.”