Paul Pogba’s controversial agent Mino Raiola has signaled the midfielder’s intent to stay at Manchester United.
Raiola told Sky Sports: “Pogba is staying at Manchester United and I think they want to extend his contract. He is at the centre of an important project, they will not accept any bid for him this summer.
“Even in the past years Manchester United were never willing to open talks. He’s not the kind of guy to create controversy. We need to be calm, especially in such a moment, and we’ll see how it goes.
“We will negotiate for an extension very calmly, without stress. We will continue our talks.”
This is positive news, although forgive us for holding back on the confetti until Pogba actually puts pen to paper on the contract.
At the very least it is good to see that Raiola is no longer taking an adversarial tone towards United and acting as a roadblock towards Pogba staying put.
If we were looking for reassurance that United will get their act together this transfer window, an optimistic takeaway is that Pogba and Raiola are aware of United’s plans and feel confident the club will deliver.
Pogba needs to deliver too
As for Pogba, his 2019/20 season was a frustrating one. He missed most of it through injury and was able to score just one goal.
He did play an important part as the team rallied since lockdown to secure a Champions League place, but in the competition next season, United need Pogba to be at his best.
Pogba ended the season with three Premier League assists. Two of those came in the opening 4-0 win over Chelsea.
In the 2018/19 season, a tumultuous one of transition between Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Pogba contributed nine assists. Only seven players in the league that year managed more.
In this season Pogba scored five goals from open play, plus a further eight from the penalty spot to take his tally to 13.
With new teammate Bruno Fernandes now on penalty duty at Old Trafford (partly a result of Pogba’s own miss against Wolves), it would be unfair to demand for the Frenchman to try and replicate his tally of 13 league goals and 9 assists next season.
But he should be aiming to beat his own personal contribution of five goals from open play and get closer towards double figures. He is certainly capable, if United take the shackles off and let him attack.
United have not yet signed an attacking alternative to Bruno Fernandes to play in his position, to take the pressure off the Portuguese star.
The club’s best option here is really Pogba, to let the club’s record signing thrive in an attacking role behind the strikers, providing he has the adequate support behind him.
The Mail reported before the restart that United had this in mind for Pogba, with Fernandes playing deeper.
While it did not transpire as described, this is one of the options United do have available next season to mix it up, if the club continue to fall short in terms of making signings.
As it stands, there will be extra pressure on Pogba and his teammates to deliver, and United need the very best version of the French World Cup winner available all season long.
This means he needs to look to better the five goals from open play and nine assists he managed in 2018/19 in the Premier League.
Considering the talent he has and of those around him, he should easily be able to accomplish this if he stays fit all season long.
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