No player’s stock has risen at Manchester United in 2021 quite like Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman put in ‘player of the month’ level performances through January, netting two winning goals along the way.

Then he got injured at the start of February, and United’s performances and results have dropped off badly without him.

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(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

So the importance of Pogba to United is growing, and possibly getting over-inflated right now, with other aspects to the poor form such as fatigue getting cast aside.

Even so, United are quite clearly a better team when Pogba is part of it. So what next for the Frenchman?

Contract dispute signals a crossroads

Pogba’s contract at United runs out in June 2022. All signs point to a big decision having to be made this summer, to avoid having to lose Pogba on a free.

But there are no guarantees United would get a good price, or a fair one. Europe’s top clubs don’t have empty pockets, and the ones who do have funds may have other priorities or dream signings than Pogba.

United could quite easily decide to keep Pogba, and deal with the repercussions.

Pogba is at United for another season, and the club could simply say to him he has to play out his final year of his deal.

While off the pitch his agent has been a persistent annoyance, Pogba’s on-pitch commitment has not been in doubt.

He is a top professional who is a popular and big figure in the United dressing room, and held in high regard by his current boss.

 

United’s chances of winning silverware next season are quite simply better for keeping Pogba, than selling him.

Moving on from Pogba is difficult to say the least, and United have a poor track record going back to the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 of replacing top stars.

It’s a risky strategy, but one United could be tempted to take.

There would be a slither of hope that Pogba could still make a late decision to extend his contract if he is still enjoying his football next season and is impressed with the club’s transfer strategy.

For instance, if United signed Jadon Sancho and another top name, Pogba may regard these as positive signs that he should renew his contract further.

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(Photo by PETER CZIBORRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It could be humiliating for United, to potentially lose Pogba on a free transfer twice, and not win a major trophy in between.

But you could see why United would be tempted to gamble. Talents like Pogba are rare, and you don’t trade one way for a cut-price fee when there is no obvious replacement.

United have to decide what is more important. £50 million, or one more season of Paul Pogba, which could blossom into a few more.

Whatever the business case may be, from a sporting perspective, United are better with Pogba in 2021/22, and keeping him will become a temptation.

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