Paul Pogba simply has to start the Manchester derby this weekend – United Under-23s versus City Under-23s that is. Three over-age outfield players are allowed per team so it would be in United’s best interests to make Pogba one of them on Sunday and for the remainder of his time at the club.
The temptation for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the dark clouds swirling around him once again, will be to pick Pogba in his squad for the slightly higher profile Premier League match against City tomorrow in the cross-fingered hope the magician with the temperamental wand can do his rabbit out of a hat thing.
But Solsjaer should resist. Pogba’s time in the United first team is up. Leipzig, and the defeat which saw the club become the one English club to go out of the Champions League at the group stage on Tuesday night, represents a fitting swansong.
In true, exasperating fashion Pogba has lately shown flashes of his latent talent, a well so deep it could have made him the player United built their side around. There was the technically exquisite goal at West Ham and the header in an eye-catching cameo as a substitute for the last half hour in Germany.
But in between Pogba, via his agent Mino Raoila, signed what should be viewed as a professional suicide note. For Raoila to come out and say: “It’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United” on the eve of that critical Champions League game was a punch in the guts to his manager, his teammates and the club and revealed where his priorities lie.
If it was a case of an agent speaking out of turn, Pogba would have corrected the position as quickly as possible but the silence since has been deafening. So we must take at face value Raoila’s proclamations that Pogba is unhappy at Old Trafford, that he has to change teams and in the next window ideally.
In other words he cannot wait to get away from the club.
United should cut their losses on a player for whom they paid a then world record record transfer fee of £89m in 2016 and cut Pogba adrift. It is not as if they are short on midfield players. Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata can create; Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic can destroy. There is enough cover without Pogba.
Of course Pogba is the best of the lot when he plays as he can but sightings of the towering figure who helped France to conquer the world at Russia 2018 have grown more and more rare as his interest has waned.
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If Pogba does not want to be at United, then he should be sold when the transfer window opens on January 4 – assuming he can find a club which will have him.
But until then there can be no place for him in the United first team.