Pogba is out of contract in the summer and appears to have no intentions of signing an extension at Old Trafford as Rangnick prepares to welcome him back into the Man Utd team
For all their problems in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, one message from their former boss has always rang true.
“No player is bigger than the club,” was often Fergie’s mantra, having shipped out plenty of offending candidates who thought to the contrary in his time as boss.
Yet it seems interim manager Ralf Rangnick is prepared to risk his own brief tenure against Fergie’s judgement, and against the firm and demanding order of club legend Paul Scholes.
While Paul Pogba cannot be held responsible for United’s complete fall from grace, he has certainly not made life easy for managers past and present.
Now, with just a few months remaining on his deal worth £290,000-per-week, Pogba looks set to depart Old Trafford and into a potentially more lucrative dream contract at Real Madrid.
The questions of how and why spring to mind, yet furthermore, United boss Ralf Rangnick is now willing to help him do it.
Can Rangnick rely on Pogba over the back half of the season? Have your say in the comments section.
Pogba has been out injured for the past two months and is nearing a return, with Rangnick keen to get the World Cup winner back into the fold as quickly as possible, despite conceding it was the home straight for the player’s United career.
“For me it’s not a question if a player has an expiring contract, the question is how much does he still want to be a part of this group?” Rangnick said at his press conference on Tuesday.
“How much does he still feel emotionally and physically on board?
“As long as this is the case, why shouldn’t Paul Pogba now, after two-and-a-half months of injury, being fully fit again now, play? He also wants to show up.
“He wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world, what kind of player he can be, even if it’s only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere.
“He will be highly motivated to do that and so why should I then not play him?”
A logical theory, though hardly one which is backed up by mountains of evidence.
In reality, it seems Pogba downed tools some time ago, though the prospect of a move could well stir a fire in his belly to try and recapture some of his old form.
Rangnick is already under scrutiny in the Red Devils’ hot-seat even as he merely keeps the seat warm for the next plucky contestant.
But failure to qualify for the Champions League would be a disastrous conclusion to what is only the start of his work at the club.
Certainly a fit and firing Pogba would give him a greater chance of achieving a top-four finish, but relying on him may not be his wisest move.
Pogba’s failure to justify his £89million price tag almost six years on, or even string together a consistent run of form worth remembering, is a damning indictment of his contributions at Old Trafford.
And it was only back in October that Scholes demanded Pogba never play for the club again following his red card in the 5-0 drubbing by rivals Liverpool.
“Paul Pogba coming on to the pitch at half-time to try and help the team and maybe get a little respectability about it, tries to stand on the ball, tries to show how strong he is in the middle of the pitch… gives the goal away,” Scholes bemoaned.
“Then later on gets sent off with a ridiculous tackle. Now you’re 5-0 down with 10 men. You’d have to think, if Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer]’s still a manager there, will we see Pogba again in a United shirt?
“He’s caused mayhem over the last couple of years. Everyone knows what a talent he is, everybody trusts him, every manager trusts him, tried to give him his head and let him be the player he’s been.
“But with all the commotion, not signing his contract, almost holding the club to ransom, and then he comes on and does something like that.”
Scholes added: “Look, he probably will play [again] won’t he? But I don’t think they will be missing anything if he doesn’t.
“He’s had numerous chances, he keeps saying he lacks consistency, but that is just [a lack of] discipline and disrespect for your manager and your team-mates, what he’s done today.”
It was hardly the first time an ex-United stalwart had taken aim at Pogba (see: Gary Neville vs Mino Raiola), but Scholes’ words were particularly cutting.
However, the fact Rangnick’s own contract (at least as a manager) only runs until the summer seems to have played into his decision, one which he is prepared to follow through with.
“As I said, there’s a difference in how players deal with their current situation. How do they handle that?” Rangnick stated.
“If they handle that in a professional way, an ambitious way, of course I will play players, even though they have a contract expiring in the summer.”
For his sake, he’ll be hoping it doesn’t come back to bite him.