Mino Raiola has cast a huge shadow over a game tonight in which United dare not lose. The often disruptive agent has suggested that Paul Pogba’s second stint at the club will soon be over.
After a start to the season blighted by a positive COVID test and a niggling ankle injury, Paul Pogba’s fifth campaign as a United player burst into life away to West Ham.
A dismal first half was soon overshadowed by clever expansive passing, a drive to move play forward and an outstanding curling finish from range.
An insightful analysis of Pogba's performance on Match of the Day tonightpic.twitter.com/SaCp6YJ409
— PogbaXtra™ (@PogbaXtra) December 6, 2020
For any ordinary club, this would be a catalyst for change and the spark United’s indifferent season desperately needs. United are no ordinary club though.
On the eve of a game away to in-form RB Leipzig United cannot afford to lose, the often troublesome Mino Raiola has addressed the Italian media. Telling them in no uncertain terms: “I can say that it’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United”.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 7, 2020
Paul Pogba has long been seen as a dividing issue for United fans. The obvious ability seems to come hand in hand with a desire to be disruptive if not on his part most certainly the part of his agent.
With the writing now well and truly on the wall, United must focus on the task at hand. A defeat tonight would see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side back in the seemingly never-ending cycle of attempting to qualify for the Champions League through means of winning the Europa League.
What does this mean for Tuesday in Leipzig?
After already beating their German opponents in conniving 5-0 fashion United should come into the fixture full of confidence. Paul Pogba would be a likely contender to start and provide much-needed positivity in midfield. Given that Leipzig are unbeaten at home all season they are likely to be very difficult to break down. The suspension of Fred after his red against PSG would also make Pogba a likely candidate to start but do United need a player who doesn’t want to be there at the centre of their biggest game so far this year?
He does only have three goals in the previous two seasons, maybe there is an element that Raiola is overplaying his hand with a view to taking Pogba elsewhere and pocketing another one of his percentages. In addition to this are there any clubs in the COVID era that could pay United’s asking price?
What is the long term solution?
United are not short of central midfielders. If whoever may be in charge in the years to come wishes to play more defensively with holding players they can. Options are already at the club to play a more attacking style as well. Midfield is not an area of desperation for the club. Keeping Pogba would seem to create more problems than it would solve.
Pogba’s departure would also solve the issue of trying to shoe-horn in star names rather than playing with a more balanced approach. This is a problem that still exists at United from the Van Gaal days of Di Maria and Falcao.
The most sensible decision would be to use whatever resources are generated by the sale of Pogba to strengthen in defence where it is desperately needed. There’s no need to replace one out of place problem midfielder with another one, no matter how good they are.