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Pogba Still a Dilemma For United

Manchester United may have to accept a cut-price deal to offload their enigmatic midfielder.

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Paul Pogba - a United player for how much longer?
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Should they decide to offload, Manchester United may be forced to shift Paul Pogba (27) in a cut price-deal.

Last summer, The Red Devils valued Paul Pogba at £180 million (USD$224m), however since the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be that United will be lucky to attract half that asking price.

The French World Cup winner has made no secret of his desire to leave Old Trafford and seek challenges anew. His agent Mina Raiola has been dancing to a similar beat as he attempts to find a suitor, probably Real Madrid, for his client.

Pogba has made few appearances this season, presumed injured, and prior to corona United appeared unwilling to force the issue with the player, probably for fear of reducing his market-value.

But with the saga running on and decisions due, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unlikely to consider the retention of a ‘want-away’ player favourably. No matter if he nurtured that talent as a former reserve team coach at United or even if possessing the belief he knows how to get the best from Pogba, if the former Juventus man is intent on departure, then Solskjaer is unlikely to stand in his way.

It’s a case of cutting the chord and letting the player find his own direction, undoubtedly towards one of the top clubs in European football. It’s clear Pogba’s greatest benefit to United in the last 2-3 seasons is that none of the club’s rivals at home or abroad could call on the Frenchman’s services, for Pogba’s contribution has been well below the levels required or expected at United.

Chief Executive Ed Woodward addressed the fans’s forum last Friday.

“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer,” the executive vice-chairman said.

“As ever, our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.

“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”

LASK v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
Focussed - Solskjaer wishes to exploit the transfer market to strengthen his side and despite admiring Pogba’s qualities, may see value in letting the Frenchman go...
Photo by UEFA - Handout/UEFA via Getty Images

Nevertheless United will find itself in a stronger position than most when things begin to normalize, but football’s finances will be far removed from the much healthier situation of a few short months ago.

Solskjaer himself has gone on record regards hoping to “exploit” the transfer market to strengthen his squad and experts are aligned in that United will be one of the few clubs in a position to spend.

Certain targets may however have moved beyond reach. Word on the street suggests United interests in acquiring Harry Kane for instance, while once a consideration, are now abandoned.

Pogba’s present contract expires in 2021 and United have the option to extend it for a further year. That they haven’t yet done so, probably provides some clues as to how they are thinking. But the Covid-19 crisis probably now leaves them with more complex considerations to ponder.

Do they cash-in now before Pogba’s value decreases still further, or take up the option of another year and hope prices return to pre-pandemic levels in twelve month’s time?

Jadon Sancho, another player who interests United may currently be out of reach too. Certainly with the player on a long-term contract and with the low likelihood of clubs wanting to meet a USD$124m asking price, Borussia Dortmund appear confident and content their English asset is not about to go anywhere.

However, if United are going to be one of a handful of clubs able to spend and with some cash-strapped rivals forced to accept cut-price deals for their stars, they may well be able to land a top target or two after all, but it probably depends on the short-term off-loading of players surplus to requirements, such as Pogba.