Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the club were having an “open dialogue” with star midfielder Paul Pogba about his contract situation and his future at Old Trafford.
Agent Mino Raiola openly claimed in December that Pogba had become unhappy with United and wanted to leave. He has also effectively threatened the club by pointing out that his client can leave as a free agent when his current contract expires in 2022 if he refuses to sell.
Raiola was widely criticized for the timing and frankness of his post in the same week as a Champions League game against RB Leipzig which United continued to lose. Pogba was not directly involved, but was at least seen as an accomplice as he never took any action to deny what his agent had said if it was wrong.
However, things seem to have changed since then. Pogba was part of United roster at that time and has now regained a regular starting spot in a squad that has improved enough to make their way into the Premier League title race for the first time since 2013 .
The Frenchman seems happier on the pitch and this translates into more regular performances. Previously, he cut a frustrated head and shoulders figure above his teammates below his level. Now others are much closer to him and complete his game and vice versa.
It’s still not clear whether either way will happen at the end of the season – whether he signs a contract or pursues a transfer, but Solskjaer’s comments suggest there is a healthy relationship between player and club and that the situation will continue to be monitored.
“We have a good open dialogue with Paul so what we talk about and how we see this situation remains between us of course,” United said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“I’m just happy he’s focused, he’s playing really well and he’s happy in himself and that’s important. You can see Paul now playing football in a red jersey. “
If United fail to convince Pogba to sign a new contract, an upcoming sale is essential to recoup transfer fees before he can leave as a free agent in 2022. Likewise, the player, who will soon be 28 , will be aware that signing a new deal will see him devote the rest of his best years to the club.
It may be that staying put and signing a new contract is Pogba’s only realistic option. The coronavirus pandemic has wrecked any possible market for him, with Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona all interested but strapped for cash. If he canceled his contract and tried his luck in free agency, he might find that not all offers can match his expectations.
Madrid are prioritizing a move for Kylian Mbappe this year, but are expected to sell a number of players and potentially fund part of the transfer with a loan to afford it. Juve would like to get rid of Cristiano Ronaldo because his contract is too difficult as it stands, while Barcelona are in the midst of a financial crisis with debts estimated at 1 billion euros.
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