Paul Pogba: Should Manchester United be happy with Mino Raiola’s statement? – Sky Sports

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Should Manchester United actually be happy with Mino Raiola’s public statement on Paul Pogba’s frustration at Old Trafford? The Transfer Talk podcast discuss how the stars may have aligned for both club and player.

According to his agent Raiola, Pogba is unhappy at Manchester United and has to leave the club in the summer transfer window. Raiola also said United should consider offloading him or face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer because he has no intention of extending his current deal.

Though the timing seemed bad on the face of it – on the eve of their crucial Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, and just days before the Manchester derby – ESPN senior football analyst Gabriele Marcotti believes United may well be on board with everything Raiola is saying.

Along with Sky Sports News‘ Dharmesh Sheth, the Transfer Talk Podcast panel discuss who is to blame for Pogba’s form at United, and which clubs could realistically sign him…

Raiola’s statement a positive for Man Utd?

Paul Pogba, Manchester United
Image: Gabrielle Marcotti believes Mino Raiola’s statement on Paul Pogba’s future may have been a positive for Manchester United

ESPN senior football analyst Gabriele Marcotti:

To me, it sounds like this is exactly what Raiola would be telling United privately, and this is exactly what United will expect to hear from Raiola privately. This is a negotiation, he’s there to look after Paul Pogba.

First of all, Raiola actually said Pogba doesn’t want to sign a new contract at this time, he didn’t say: “He’s never signing a new contract.”

Secondly, it’s not immediately clear to me whether United have offered him a new contract. Have they offered him a proper new contract? Not something that involves a pay cut? If they’ve not offered him a new contract, it’s one of two things: he either stays and leaves on a free, or United sell him.

United are on board with every single thing Raiola said. They wouldn’t dispute any of that, would they?

Paul Pogba and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 0:36
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit back at Pogba’s agent Raiola following comments about the Frenchman’s future

Maybe this is actually a positive for United. Because everybody knows Pogba’s contract is winding down, so the alternatives for United are two-fold: they can pretend they want to keep Paul Pogba, while not offering him a new contract, so that we can hawk him around Europe and try to get him a club, so they can get some money back. This way, you’ve got Raiola laying it out very, very clearly.

I’m not going to suggest Raiola agreed this statement with United beforehand, but I think if you’re the decision-makers at United, you have no issue with what Raiola said, because it shifts the focus onto Raiola.

If Pogba leaves and wins the Ballon d’Or somewhere else, United can say: ‘Big, bad Raiola wanted him to leave.’ Now the message is clear: Pogba is available, and hopefully that’s going to bring clubs to the door. I assume this is what United want, because they haven’t offered him a new contract!

Yes, it comes before a Manchester derby and before the Leipzig game. If he’d come out and said it after United had been eliminated, would that have been much better? In the end, I think Raiola and United played this well. Everything is out there, everything is clear, and the club can move on.

Man Utd can’t let him leave for free

Ed Woodward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: United risk losing Pogba on a free in the summer of 2022 if they cannot find a suitor

Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth:

I think we’re approaching the end game. If there’s no appetite for Paul Pogba to sign a new contract – and let’s be honest, this is coming from both sides, because Manchester United are not rushing to tie him down to a new contract either – then United effectively have two transfer windows to get some money for Paul Pogba.

Can you imagine United getting to a situation where Paul Pogba leaves on a free for a second time?! It would just reflect so badly on the club.

I don’t think United fans are surprised Pogba wants to leave, but what has left a sour taste above anything else was the timing of these comments from Mino Raiola.

What will have infuriated United even more is that there hasn’t been anything from Pogba, no apology, nothing, just silence, and it was left to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to field the questions. You would assume that the silence indicates that everybody is in the know about this.

Dybala, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr? Real, Juve exchange possibilities

Paulo Dybala
Image: Paulo Dybala has been linked with United in the Italian press

ESPN senior football analyst Gabriele Marcotti:

This is going to be the really big conundrum here. We’ve had the impact of the pandemic on every club’s finances, so if we take Raiola’s word and assume United are happy to sell him as early as January, it becomes difficult to put a number on it. If you’re going to Paul Pogba, you have to pay a bucketload in wages, that’s not going to change, and you’re going to have to come up with a number to pay United.

If you talk about Real Madrid and Juventus, you’re talking about two teams that are already pretty stretched. In the case of both clubs, they would be much happier offering players in part exchange.

In Italy they have talked about potentially sending Paulo Dybala the other way for Pogba. That would suit Juventus because Dybala wants a new contract, his form has dropped and United were obviously linked with Dybala in the past.

I’m not sure what sense it makes for United because you already have Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Rashford, Greenwood, Cavani.

From Real Madrid’s perspective, equally, who do you send them back the other way? The direction of travel for United in the past has been to go for younger players in the long term.

The players Real can send the other way, who are young and United may want, you’re looking at Rodrygo or Vinicius Jr, but do United need another winger? Especially when in the longer term they’re looking at Jadon Sancho?

So I’m not sure who has the cash to sign him, so United may be looking at a big loss.

Is Pogba really to blame for form?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shares his delight in United's comeback with Pogba
Image: Can United take some of the blame for Pogba’s lack of form at the club?

Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth:

Pogba instantly becomes the scapegoat when anything goes wrong at United. Yes, he’s the £90m player, but I have a degree of sympathy for him.

Let’s look at this from Pogba’s side: he’s given the peak years of his career to Manchester United. In those peak years, every manager at Old Trafford has said: ‘This Manchester United side are in transition.’

Has he performed brilliantly throughout his time at United? No. Both he and his agent will admit that. But United have to take some responsibility for this as well.

If you spend £90m on a player, surely there is an element of building your team around a player like that, and yet four years later we’re still wondering what his best position is.

When I look at the France World Cup squad, and of course it’s difficult to compare them with United, Pogba was part of a three-man midfield that contained N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi. At United, he’s often asked to play the role that Kante and Matuidi played for France in that World Cup final. Is that playing to Paul Pogba’s strength?

I think it’s very easy to blame Pogba for everything that has gone wrong; sometimes you have to look at the collective responsibility.

Has Paul Pogba delivered his best performances for United? Perhaps not. Have United done all they can to accommodate and bring the best out of Pogba? You’d have to question that. I think Manchester United have to take a look at themselves too.

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