Paul Pogba is determined to leave Manchester United because of the toxic legacy Jose Mourinho continues to stay at Old Trafford.
Sources close to Pogba insisted he still wanted to leave the club despite Mourinho being sacked in December.
The £ 89 million midfielder is still believed to be upset by the treatment he received from his former manager, who included being removed from the vice captain and humiliated for important matches.
And the failure of the Man Utd hierarchy to step in when the pair’s relations dramatically deteriorated threatened to haunt them again, with Pogba now interested in moving to Real Madrid.
United insist that the 26-year-old will not be sold at any price – but they are preparing for a transfer fight this summer after rejecting interest from Barcelona 12 months ago.
The failure to secure Champions League football and the massive rebuilding in front of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer further weakened their bargaining position – even though Pogba had two years left on his contract and options for another 12 months.
United are now waiting to see how strong their signing is and their agent Mino Raiola is ready to push to move to the Bernabeu.
Ed Woodward found drunk from the life of the Mourinho government five months after he was fired.
And if United’s deputy chief executive thinks the Portuguese departure will be enough to convince Pogba to commit to his future at the club, he seems to be disappointed.
The irony of United’s current difficulties is that Mourinho, too, believes he needs more support when it comes to controlling his star players.
In an interview with beIN Sports shortly after his dismissal, he said: “We are no longer in a time when the coach himself is strong enough to overcome and have an educational relationship, and sometimes confrontation, with players who are not the best professionals. Trainers now need structure.
“A club must be very well organized to deal with situations like this, where managers are only managers and not people who try to maintain discipline or who try to educate players.”
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Sources at United insisted they were empowering Mourinho by giving him complete control of his troops, which included the authority to fine or drop players.
In the end this approach resulted in dissatisfied Pogba and Mourinho.
Uncertainty over Pogba’s future is an unwanted headache for Solskjaer when he starts an army checkup this summer.
The Norwegian will show the door to a number of players at the end of the season, with as many as five new recruits entering at a cost of more than £ 200 million.
He intends to build his team around Pogba – but is unlikely to be prepared to do so if the former Juventus player openly lobbies for transfers.
Solskjaer had hoped to bring two midfielders, with Bruno Fernandes, Idrissa Gueye, Declan Rice and Youri Tielemans all under consideration.
But Pogba’s departure will leave him with a big hole to fill before the window where United are expected to make a record out.