Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba may run down his contract at Old Trafford and not sign a new one in the latest speculation about his uncertain future at the club and ultimate desire to join Real Madrid.
Gossip linking Pogba with a move to Spain has never been far from the headlines all summer. The Frenchman spoke positively about the idea of a ‘new challenge’ back in June, but has kept his head down and maintained a professional attitude that has drawn praise since.
It hasn’t stopped others speculating on his behalf, however, with Madrid-based older brother Mathias twice giving interviews in Spain in recent weeks to talk up the possibility of a transfer.
United have steadfastly refused to sell for anything other than a premium fee – anywhere between £150m and £200m depending on the source. Real’s best offer in an already expensive summer for them ended up being a derisory ‘£27m plus James Rodriguez’ proposal.
Los Blancos are generally accepted to have given up on signing Pogba this summer at least, but Marca now alleges that the long-term pursuit is not dead and that agent Mino Raiola ‘does not stop working’ to try and make it happen.
It is said that Raiola has informed United officials that his client will not be signing a new contract with the club, seemingly backing the Premier League side into a corner.
Similarities are drawn with Real’s capture of Eden Hazard from Chelsea this summer, with the 13-time European champions eventually landing the Belgian international when he was down to the final year of his contract, which left Chelsea little option but to sell.
Pogba has just under two years until 2021 left on the original five-year contract he signed when he completed his world record move from Juventus three years ago.
That 2021 expiry is billed as a key date as the implication is that Real will be able to strike a Hazard-style deal in 2020 - it is what Marca’s whole story rests on. Yet the report conveniently ignores, or is unaware of, United’s option of an extra year that will extend the contract to 2022.
Unless Pogba signs a new long-term deal at Old Trafford before then, triggering that 12-month option is a given. It would therefore still be another two years from now, not the single year Marca suggests, before United are actually in the same position as Chelsea were with Hazard.
Marca’s desire is to see Pogba become a Real Madrid player and this story serves to push that agenda. But disregarding a key detail that would otherwise unhinge the claims of a 2020 transfer will not make it happen any sooner.