Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly seen plans to offload Paul Pogba and re-invest the money in signing a replacement in the Manchester United midfield put on ice.
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.
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.
United only plan to move for Grealish – or perhaps more ambitiously, Saul Niguez, who has also been linked – if they can offload Pogba first.
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, those plans could be up in smoke with Pogba’s two main suitors, Juventus and Real Madrid, financially strapped right now due to the financial crisis gripping the game after all football was halted.
They claim neither side look currently capable of producing the funds needed to prise Pogba away – unless United take a vastly reduced sum – but ultimately meaning Solskjaer could be left with the player for a further 12 months should no concrete interest emerge.
That would give the player the platform to prove he’s firstly over his seemingly delicate ankle injury that has sidelined him for most of this season and prove to his suitors that he remains a worthwhile investment.
Solskjaer is expected to have around £150million to spend this summer and is believed to have prioritised the signing of Jadon Sancho – with the player reported to have decided to sign, but with Dortmund demanding a fee of €130m – and the permanent capture of Odion Ighalo.
The signing of those two would leave Solskjaer with little, to no wriggle-room as for strengthening his midfield, and likely resulting in both Pogba and United ‘forced’ to endure one another’s company for a further 12 months.
Souness launches extraordinary Pogba rant
Souness was involved in a Q&A with the Sunday Times readers, with one asking him about his apparent “disdain” for the France star.
The reader asked: “Much has been made of your apparent disdain for Paul Pogba. Is this a misconception? Should you have been his team-mate, what words of advice do you feel that you would have offered him?”
To which Souness replied: “Pogba has absolutely everything to be a top player – great athleticism, super technique – but his attitude to the game is the polar opposite of mine.
“He goes out with one thought in his mind: ‘I’m going to show everyone how clever I am today and be the star of the show.’
“My attitude, the way I was taught, was: ‘Go out and work harder than the guy you’re in against and see where that takes you.’ He’d be an absolute doddle to play against.”