You can put football on ice but there’s no stopping the Paul Pogba rumour mill and The Sun has a new scoop for us today.
According to the outlet, Manchester United are determined to sell the Frenchman no matter what and have slashed their asking price for the player to £100 million, a reported reduction of £80 million.
‘United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to forge a new era and, despite not publicly criticising Pogba, does not want any egos’ says reporter Neil Custis. ‘Offers around £100million would see United move quickly to get a deal done for a player whose contract is up next summer.’
The problem with the report is that the figures don’t quite add up. It has been widely reported that United’s original asking price was more in the region of £150 million and not £180 as the report claims.
The fact remains that even if United have lowered their asking price to £100 million, it still leaves the club at least £15 million adrift of the 27-year-old’s market valuation of £85 million and the top figure that any club has been reported as prepared to pay.
And as reported here recently, Pogba’s ‘dizzying’ wage demands – a reported £360,000 per week – would present another obstacle to many clubs agreeing a deal, including Juventus, the reported front-runners in the chase to sign the Frenchman.
The most interesting aspect of The Sun’s report is therefore the claim that Solskjaer wants rid of Pogba.
This flies in the face of reports such as that in The Athletic recently which claimed that ‘relations are good between the current United manager and player’.
It is of course possible that the manager’s consistent support of Pogba is merely for appearances sake and to maintain the player’s market value, and that he might secretly want to rid himself of the maverick midfielder, the circus that surrounds him and in particular, his outspoken agent Mino Raiola, who has publicly insulted and ridiculed the club.
Former manager José Mourinho famously referred to Pogba as a ‘virus’ within the club.
And the player himself was clearly either taunting United or exercising poor judgement by taking to social media in a Juventus shirt yesterday, claiming it was in support of his fellow countryman Blaise Matuidi and others in Italy.
‘I know the cheeky ones will talk about the Juventus jersey ? I’m just supporting my friends … that’s all, nothing more ?’, he said on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
?? Supporting our Juventus and Sampdoria friends @blaisematuidiofficiel, @albinekdal and all athletes and people around the world who are facing this difficult moment.⠀ ⠀ Be strong, #StayAtHome and be safe ??!⠀⠀ ⠀ New training camp is called …⠀⠀ Quarantine PP Arena, open 24/7! ??♂⠀⠀ Having fun working at home ? with my brother @victorlindelof!⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ (I know the cheeky ones will talk about the Juventus jersey ? I'm just supporting my friends … that's all, nothing more ?).⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ?? A sostegno degli amici di Juventus e Sampdoria @blaisematuidiofficiel e @albinekdal e di tutti gli atleti e le persone del mondo⠀ ⠀ Siate forti, #StayAtHome e fate attenzione ??⠀ ⠀ Il nuovo campo di allenamento si chiama… ⠀ Quarantena PP Arena, aperto 24 ore su 24 ??♀⠀ Mi diverto ad allenarmi a casa ? con il mio amico @victorlindelof!⠀ ⠀ (So che qualche malizioso parlerà del fatto che indosso la maglia della Juventus ?, ma lo faccio solo per dare un segno di supporto al mio amico, non c’è nessun’altra ragione ?).
While football is on lockdown, try your hand at our quiz below that tests your knowledge about the times when Manchester United or its players have been banned, bombed or blocked from playing.