Paul Pogba has given a strong indication that he wants to leave Manchester United this summer to seek a “new challenge”.
The French World Cup winner rejoined United from Juventus for a then world record 89 million ($112 million) fee three years ago but has largely failed to live up to expectations.
Pogba has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid or even a return to Juventus with United having failed to qualify for the Champions League next season.
“For me I have been for three years in Manchester and have been doing great; some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody. Like everywhere else,” Pogba was quoted as telling reporters in Tokyo by The Guardian on Sunday.
“I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else.”
Despite scoring 16 goals this season, half of which came from the penalty spot, Pogba was often criticised for his contribution under both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United limped to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League.
Should Pogba move on, United are likely to seek a higher fee than they spent on the 26-year-old in 2016.
The summer overhaul in the transfer market at Old Trafford has already begun with the signing of Welsh winger Daniel James from Swansea for an initial 15 million ($19 million) fee this week.
The Red Devils have also been linked with bids for defenders Harry Maguire and Issa Diop and Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff.
Paul Pogba says Manchester United can hurt Barcelona at the Camp Nou as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side plot another unlikely Champions League comeback following their 1-0 home defeat.
Luke Shaw’s own goal from a Luis Suarez header was the difference in Wednesday’s first leg of the quarter-final at Old Trafford, where United failed to muster a single shot on target but largely shackled Barca’s glut of attackers.
Solskjaer’s men face an uphill battle but they will travel with memories still fresh of their remarkable recovery last month to beat Paris Saint-Germain on away goals after losing the home leg 2-0.
French World Cup winner Pogba was encouraged by how United largely kept Barcelona quiet.
“I think it was a good game,” the midfielder said. “Obviously we were playing against Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world, but we gave them some problems as well.
“They gave us some problems but we know where we can hurt them. Now it is one leg gone, you have the other one and we are going to give everything on this one.”
Asked if United could beat the Spanish league leaders, Pogba said: “Of course. If you don’t believe that you can beat them, you just let them go through.
“Of course we believe that we can beat them. We are Manchester United. Even if they are Barcelona, we are Manchester United and we play in the Champions League like they do and we can go through, of course.”
Winning at the Camp Nou will be a tough ask but Pogba said the PSG comeback breeds positivity.
“Probably Paris will be in their minds for sure because they saw what we can do against PSG,” he said.
“Obviously they will be comfortable on their own pitch but let us see. We’ll see what happens at the end. I think maybe the chances that we get we have to put them in and be careful.
“They didn’t have really a lot of chances. Maybe one when David (de Gea) made a great save but then after that they were not that dangerous, not a lot of chances.
“So, try to avoid this and be a killer in front. That’s i
That swaggering solo effort was followed by the influential Pogba’s second-half penalty as United moved into fourth place, one point above Chelsea, who face Manchester City on Sunday.
Winners of six consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time since May 2009, United are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish after trailing 11 points behind those places on the day Jose Mourinho was sacked in December.
They have won 10 of 11 matches in all competitions since Solskjaer replaced Mourinho as interim boss.
Manchester United are more willing and better prepared to attack opponents under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer than Jose Mourinho, according to midfielder Paul Pogba.
The French World Cup winner’s own return to form is in keeping with a rejuvenated United as a whole since the Norwegian replaced the sacked Mourinho last month.
Pogba, who was dropped by Mourinho for his final three Premier League games in charge, has scored four goals and provided four assists as Solskjaer has become the first United manager to win all of his first six games.
“The way we are playing we have more possession of the ball. We know more where to attack and where to go. We have more of a pattern of play and more of a structure,” Pogba told Sky Sports News.
“That makes it easier for everyone. So I would not say it is only myself. Yes, I have scored a few goals and had a few assists but it is all the team.”
Pogba was the provider for Marcus Rashford’s winner in a 1-0 victory at Tottenham last weekend that allowed United to close to within six points of the Premier League top four, having been 11 points adrift when Mourinho departed on December 18.
However, United were also indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea, who made 11 second-half saves at Wembley.
“It was great for us. It was great to show we are coming back and getting closer to the top,” Pogba said. “We needed points and we showed that we could beat a big team.
“I wouldn’t say (we had) luck because you create your own luck. David did his job and I thank him for that.”
Paul Pogba will be fit to return from injury for Manchester United’s Premier League match at Tottenham this weekend, interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Thursday.
The France midfielder linked up late with his team-mates for a warm-weather training camp in Dubai this week after being injured in a challenge by Jonjo Shelvey during the 2-0 victory at Newcastle on January 2.
Pogba missed last Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup victory over Reading as a result of the knock, but trained well in the United Arab Emirates, according to Solskjaer.
“He looked OK towards the end, so he will be fit. He did have some problems but he came through the last couple of sessions well, so he should be OK,” the Norwegian said.
Solskjaer has made a perfect start as United’s coach since replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho on December 19, winning each of his first five matches in charge.
The former United striker, who is on loan from Norwegian club Molde until the end of the season, has made clear since his return to Old Trafford he would love the manager’s job on a permanent basis.
However, his opponent on Sunday, Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino, is believed by many observers to be the likeliest person to get the United job.
Solskjaer praised the Argentinian and justified the reports.
“He has done a very good job. That speculation is there for a reason -– because he has done well -– but it’s not my job to rate managers. My focus is on me and my team.”
The interim boss, though, has rejected the idea that this match represents his first serious challenge in charge of United, following wins over Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading.
“We’ve had tests. Newcastle away is a test and the first game was a test as to how everyone reacted. The first home game with the crowd is a test,” he said.
“We are not going to get as many chances to attack against these as we had before so when we have the ball we have to be ready to play well with it and we have to use the whole pitch because Wembley is a decent size pitch as well,” he added.
One of United’s biggest test will be containing the threat of Tottenham striker Harry Kane, the joint-leading scorer in this season’s Premier League, with 14 goals.
“He’s not bad is he? He is a fantastic goal scorer and one of the best in the world, but I have got a couple that I’m happy to work with,” Solskjaer said
“He is a top professional. Sure, whoever plays with him and trains with him can talk more about him, but from the outside he is a fantastic finisher,” the 1999 treble winner said.
Solskjaer, meanwhile, revealed defender Marcos Rojo has returned to his native Argentina as he continues to recover from a leg injury that has kept him out for a month.
“He has gone back to Argentina for a while because of his injury. How long will he be out for? How long is a piece of rope? For him, it was mentally important to go away and come back fresh again.”
Paul Pogba scored twice for the second time in five days as Manchester United’s revival since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho continued unabated with a 4-1 thrashing of Bournemouth at Old Trafford.
A third consecutive victory since Solskjaer took caretaker charge until the end of the season keeps United eight points adrift of Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish.
Marcus Rashford also shone as the England international’s stunning run and cross teed up Pogba’s opener before he scored United’s third.
Nathan Ake pulled a goal back for Bournemouth just before half-time, but Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to round off the scoring before Eric Bailly was shown a late red card to leave United to finish with 10 men.
The change in mood around United in the 12 days since Mourinho was sacked is palpable, no more so in the performances of Pogba who was discarded from the Portuguese’s starting line-up for his final three league games in charge.
The French World Cup winner played a part in four of United’s five goals at Cardiff last weekend to get Solskjaer off to a flying start before scoring twice against Huddersfield on Boxing Day.
Solskjaer has spoken of his desire to see Pogba break into the box more regularly and he had the simplest of tasks to prod the ball into an empty net after Rashford had bewildered the Bournemouth defence.
Ake and Diego Rico were left beaten by Rashford’s combination of fleet-footed dribbling and pace before his cross perfectly picked out Pogba’s run.
The roles were reversed 10 minutes later when this time Pogba’s header teed up Rashford for a powerful strike that was deflected just behind.
However, in stark contrast to the final days of Mourinho’s tenure, it seemed only a matter of time before United struck again and once more it was Pogba who provided the finish with a bullet header from Ander Herrera’s cross.
Unlike Pogba, Nemanja Matic was one of Mourinho’s most trusted lieutenants but the Serbian has also epitomised the change in tack orchestrated by Solskjaer with the former Chelsea midfielder much more willing to look for a forward rather than sideways pass.
And Matic began the move for United’s third when he picked out Anthony Martial’s run and the Frenchman’s cross with the outside of his boot was turned home by Rashford.
For all the improvements of late, though, Solskjaer is still waiting for a first clean sheet since November as Ake beat Matic to power home David Brooks’s cross.
Rashford should have added to his tally when put clean through by Pogba, but didn’t get enough elevation on his attempted chip over Asmir Begovic before making way for Lukaku 20 minutes from time.
And the Belgian netted almost instantly when he squeezed the ball past Begovic on his weaker right foot from another Pogba pass.
Only the post then denied Pogba a first ever hat-trick when his low strike from the edge of the box came off the woodwork.
But United had to see out the final 11 minutes a man light after Bailly needlessly lunged in on Ryan Fraser to see a straight red card.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United are now seeing the Paul Pogba he knows from his time in charge of the club’s reserve team after the French World Cup winner scored twice in a 3-1 win over Huddersfield on Boxing Day.
Solskjaer’s reign as caretaker manager began with a 5-1 win at Cardiff on Saturday, and his dream start continued with a resounding welcome by the Old Trafford faithful.
Nemanja Matic scored the opener, but it was Pogba’s second half display and the Frenchman’s two goals that spoke volumes about the change in mood at the club in the week since Jose Mourinho was sacked as manager and replaced, until the end of the season, by the popular Norwegian.
Solskjaer coached Pogba as a youngster before the midfielder left for Juventus and United had to pay a then world record £89 million to bring him back in 2016.
“That’s the Paul I know,” said Solskjaer. “The Paul I’ve known since he was in the reserves and youth team with me.
“He has always been a happy boy, he’s always had a big smile on his face.”
Pogba cut a less than a happy figure for much of this season as he clashed with Mourinho and was left on the bench for the Portuguese’s final three league games in charge.
“When you score a goal, or two, of course you are happy,” Solskjaer said.
“But when you play football for Man United you should be happy. Of course it’s a responsibility, but it’s an honour and a privilege.
“Paul loves playing for this club. He’s a Man United boy through and through, a kid who knows what it means to play for Man United.”
– De Gea’s ‘defining moment’ – The outcome could have been very different, though, but for David de Gea’s stunning save to keep out an effort from Laurent Depoitre moments before Pogba’s first and United’s second goal.
“Dave’s save was the defining moment. One of the best saves I’ve seen,” said Solskjaer.
United swiftly went down the other end and Juan Mata and Ander Herrera teed up Pogba to convert an accurate finish from 16 yards.
Pogba had only scored twice in a Premier League game once – in the derby victory at Manchester City in April that ranked as one of the highlights of Mourinho’s time in charge.
But he would repeat the trick in Solskjaer’s second game in charge, exchanging passes with Jesse Lingard, before beating Jonas Lossl with a spectacular right-foot finish from 25 yards after 77 minutes.
Solskjaer has had a whirlwind week after temporarily leaving his role in charge of Molde to help out the club where he spent 11 seasons as a player.
“It was extra special of course,” said Solskjaer of his return as manager to Old Trafford. “But I was surprisingly calm, the boys settled me down really quickly.
“It’s special to walk out there, hearing the crowd again singing my song – normally they started after I scored a goal, not before the game after I walked out!
“But it’s humbling and made me really proud. Hopefully, my family is proud and my family back home in Norway watching on telly.
“It was a great day, I will never ever forget, I’ll never forget these two games.”
Huddersfield claimed a late consolation as substitute Steve Mounie outjumped Pogba to head on an 88th minute Alex Pritchard free-kick, setting up Mathias Zanka who slotted in from close range.
“We have seen again today that they play with freedom,” said Huddersfield manager David Wagner of Solskjaer’s new-look United.
“They penetrate the ball in the right moments. In the first half, we came under tremendous pressure but they play with freedom and they still have world-class players. We have seen that today.”
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has thanked Jose Mourinho for helping him “improve as a person” despite the breakdown of their relationship in the last few months leading up to the former manager’s sacking on Tuesday.
Mourinho, who replaced Dutchman Louis van Gaal in 2016, won the Europa League and League Cup in his first campaign but his third season was dominated by media reports of a rift with Pogba while United laboured on the pitch playing dull soccer.
Pogba was stripped of vice-captaincy earlier this season and dropped for the final three league games of Mourinho’s tenure, but the France international said that he had no hard feelings towards the Portuguese.
“We won trophies with Jose and I want to thank him for that. Not everything worked well, but (some) things went well,” Pogba told the British media.
“He makes me improve, as a person as well, and that’s it. That’s the past, I want to thank him for that. I’m sure that is the same for all the players.”
Pogba was immediately restored to the starting line-up under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and produced two assists in Saturday’s 5-1 Premier League thrashing of Cardiff City.
“The performance of the team was great and we are happy that the first game of the manager starts like this,” Pogba added.
“It’s important now to carry on like that. We cannot play like this and win with five goals and then the next game lose.”
United, who are sixth in the standings with 29 points after 18 matches, host Huddersfield Town on Wednesday.
There were reports that Jose Mourinho cried when he heard he had not been selected as the heir to Alex Ferguson’s throne at Manchester United.
Once he finally landed his dream job he only lasted two-and-a-half years before leaving Old Trafford with his reputation seriously tarnished.
The axe finally fell on the Portuguese on Tuesday, an increasingly inevitable divorce as Mourinho fell out with senior squad members, blamed his superiors for a lack of backing in the transfer market and oversaw a drastic deterioration in performances and results on the pitch.
Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool, which left United 19 points behind the Premier League leaders after just 17 games, proved the final straw.
After David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, a third manager sacked in four years suggests there is far more to be fixed behind the scenes at the world’s richest club than a new name on the manager’s door.
Former club captain Gary Neville raged at a club “rotten to the core” when rumours over Mourinho’s future first circulated and after the Liverpool defeat described United’s board as “so naive it’s unbelievable”.
But Mourinho did little to help himself, particularly in a short-lived third season, which has become an unwanted hallmark of his managerial career.
His departure from Old Trafford came a day after the third anniversary of his sacking from a second spell at Chelsea just six months after winning the title with the Blues.
For the first time since leaving provincial Portuguese side Uniao de Leiria for local giants Porto in 2002, Mourinho leaves a club having failed to win a league title.
He did deliver silverware, winning the League Cup and Europa League in his debut season, and even claiming the Community Shield, a glorified friendly curtain-raiser to the season, as a hat-trick of trophies.
United’s highest league finish since Ferguson’s retirement followed last season but it was still only second best to local rivals Manchester City and by a record 19-point margin.
– Pogba power struggle –
The seeds of disharmony were also sown last season. Mourinho routinely dropped the club’s most expensive ever signing, £89 million ($113 million) midfielder Paul Pogba, to start a power struggle he has ultimately lost.
Pogba sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes at Anfield on Sunday and has not started any of United’s past three league games.
The French World Cup winner was not alone. Mourinho was stinging in his public criticism of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial among others.
The man who introduced himself to English football as the “Special One” and proved it by delivering Chelsea’s first league title for 50 years was now the surly one.
In a recurring theme from his third season at Real Madrid and the third season of his second spell at Chelsea, Mourinho’s message quickly fell on deaf ears.
Without his confidant and assistant for 17 years, Rui Faria, who left United in May, Mourinho became even more volatile.
The United board also seemed to lose faith just months after handing Mourinho a new contract until 2020 in January.
A number of signing targets earmarked by the manager to improve United’s central defence in the summer were apparently deemed no better than options already in the squad by the club’s hierarchy, led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Mourinho’s success has always been built on solid foundations. Having not conceded more than twice in one match for 22 months, United shipped three goals each time in defeats to Brighton, Tottenham, West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool and have already conceded more league goals in the current campaign than in the whole of last season.
His cautious nature also clashed with the 20-time English champions’ tradition of attacking football.
Even more galling for United fans was to see fierce rivals City and Liverpool under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp marrying success with entertaining football.
“The most important job of football is entertaining the people because it is only football and nothing else,” said Klopp earlier this season on his personal duel with Guardiola.
Mourinho has always been more pragmatic. But as his previous spells in Madrid and at Stamford Bridge show, when a results-driven manager starts losing, there is nothing left to save his job.
Manchester United’s monumental task of halting Manchester City’s momentum was made even harder as Paul Pogba was ruled out of Sunday’s Manchester derby due to injury with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez left on the bench by Jose Mourinho.
Pogba completed the 90 minutes as United came from behind to beat his old club Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, but picked up what the club described as a “little injury.”
Lukaku missed last weekend’s 2-1 win at Bournemouth and the trip to Italy in midweek due to a hamstring problem and is only fit enough for a place on the bench, alongside Sanchez who drops out in one of just two changes from Turin.
Marouane Fellaini comes into midfield for Pogba, while Marcus Rashford starts in a central role up front.
City make two changes from the side that thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday with even a hat-trick against the Ukrainians not enough for Gabriel Jesus to keep his place as Sergio Aguero returns.
The Premier League champions could move 12 points clear of United and back to the top of the table with an 11th win in their last 12 games.
Manchester United are in trouble and fans of Italian champions Juventus are right to dream of signing Paul Pogba, France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps said on Wednesday.
“All of Manchester United are in trouble. Pogba is still the same and is one of the best midfielders in the world,” Deschamps told Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport of the tensions between Pogba and United boss Jose Mourinho.
“However, I’ll never comment on relationships between players and coaches.”
Pogba has been linked with a return to Juventus, whom he joined for free in 2012 after walking out of United after the club failed to tie him to a new contract.
He then returned to United in 2016 on a five-year contract for a then-record transfer fee of 105m euros (£89.3 million).
Deschamps suggested the prospect of Pogba once again quitting United for Juventus was not so far-fetched.
“Dreams are a part of life,” he added. “Maybe the fans hadn’t dreamed of Cristiano Ronaldo, who ended up signing.
“Sometimes dreams come true, but compared to a few years ago it would cost Juve a lot more to buy Pogba now.”
Deschamps managed Juventus in the mid-2000s after the club were demoted from Serie A amid a match-fixing scandal, having played for five years with the club until 1999.
“Today’s Juve is as strong the one with which I won the Champions League in 1996,” said the 49-year-old of the Italian champions’ last European triumph.
“The difference is also down to details. This Juventus has the means to be among the favourites.
“Cristiano Ronaldo makes Champions League victory almost obligatory.
“With him, Juventus have guaranteed a player who can be decisive in important moments. He is a great professional,” Deschamps said.
“Serie A is an important league anyway, even if the Premier League is ahead because of the superior financial means.
“The arrival of Ronaldo guarantees greater exposure for the league abroad, a bit like Neymar in Ligue 1.
“Of course people talked about Juventus before, but it’s clear that the marketing effect of a champion like CR7 (Ronaldo) allows you to reach every corner of the globe.”
Deschamps, meanwhile, said he was happy coaching France but believes former France and Juventus teammate Zinedine Zidane could return to Italy having left Real Madrid last summer.
“That position is already occupied by a great coach like (Massimilano) Allegri, who is doing a great job,” said Deschamps.
“Maybe Zidane, with his Bianconero past like mine, will have his chance. We’ll see.”