Former England captain says Paul Pogba “won’t be at Old Trafford next season”
Paul Ince believes that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will be a Real Madrid player next season unless Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can convince him to stay.
The France international has been heavily linked with a summer switch to the Bernabeu, but his manager insisted this week that he is confident of Pogba staying after holding a meeting with the player.
It came on the back of Pogba praising the Merengues and their coach Zinedine Zidane during the international break, and former United midfielder Ince has seen enough to be convinced that the 26-year-old is heading for the exit.
“There are players who need to move on if Ole wants to re-build,” he told Paddy Power. (opens in new tab)
“But also, there may well be a few players who seem to want to move on themselves.
“The main culprit of that, I believe, is Paul Pogba. Ole needs to convince him that he’s going to build the team around him going forward if he wants him to stay.
“Honestly, I don’t think Pogba will be at Old Trafford next season. Ole’s come in, changed the way he feels about the game since Jose Mourinho left and because his form has improved, the big boys have come calling again.
“It’s always hard when Real Madrid come knocking. But I’m not sure Pogba’s ever settled at United since he came back, and a move could be on the cards.
“It’s Ole’s job to do some convincing now, convince players like Pogba and David de Gea that they’re better off at Old Trafford.
“Regardless of those names, Fred and Alexis Sanchez need to move on in the summer for the sake of the club and the player. There are four or five players that need to leave if United are to move forward.”
United’s hopes of a top-four finish were dealt a blow on Tuesday night when they were beaten 2-1 by Wolves in the Premier League to leave them outside of the Champions League places with just six rounds remaining.
Ince believes missing out on qualification to European football’s showcase competition would be devastating to a club of their standing.
“Ultimately, Man United have to be in the Champions League,” he said.
“It’s simply not good enough if they’re not. Don’t get me wrong, Ole has done a fantastic job in getting them to this point, but they need to finish the job off.
“They can't afford to be without European football next year. In fact, United should never not be in that competition. No disrespect, but they should be attracting the biggest players, and the biggest players don’t want to play in the Europa League.
“The team should be doing everything they can to make the top four, and the Wolves result seems particularly poor because of that.
“Romelu Lukaku had a poor game for someone who’s supposed to be the man in form, he shouldn’t be missing a header like that. And, in fact, at this stage of the season, you absolutely have to be taking your chances, there are no excuses. You have to make it count.
“The honeymoon period with Ole is definitely over. He said when he got the job that now it was time to work. There’s always more pressure on you when you are given the job permanently, than when you’re a caretaker manager, and he knows that he will be getting analysed and picked apart every time they lose a game.”
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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.