Paul Pogba is nearing the end of his second stint at Manchester United, but he has reached the stage where no one even notices that time is running out for his inevitable departure in the summer.
There will be recriminations and accusations from all sides when he heads through the exit door, but United will be wrong if they believe the blame for Pogba’s failure to live up to the hype at Old Trafford is only at the 26-year-old.
Pogba’s move to United since his return to Juventus in August 2016 has been a story of underperformance and mismanagement, and each side has been severely neglected by others. But after a season that saw him make only eight first-team appearances due to injury, Pogba United’s career is sparkling in nothingness.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take his United team to Marbella on Friday for a short training camp during the First Mid-Season Break of the Premier League, but Pogba will not be on the trip. Six weeks after declaring that Pogba would be out for “three or four weeks” due to a minor ankle operation, Solskjaer chose not to include the midfielder in his squad in Spain because he was not deemed ready to train with the rest of the team. He has almost reached the stage where questions are no longer asked about Pogba’s fitness because the vague answers have turned out to offer nothing in terms of clarifying exactly when he will be ready to shoot a United shirt again.
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Sources told ESPN that no one of any consequences at United expects the French international to be at Old Trafford next season. Pogba’s team-mates believe he will leave the club, while senior officials no longer go through the moves to insist that the player will still be part of the team for the 2020-21 campaign. The fact that he misses the trip to Spain is another indication that we are now in the end of Pogba’s second period at United. If he had been considered a key figure in Solskjaer’s plans, he would have been taken to Spain to work on his fitness with the rest of the team rather than being left to his own devices elsewhere.
As recently as Wednesday, Pogba – ranked No. 6 among the world’s best midfielders in ESPN FC 100 – what the videos display on his Instagram story of Adidas billboards carrying his image on the side of a road in the Middle East. During his long periods on the sidelines this season, we got used to Pogba being anywhere but Manchester, sharing video from Dubai, Miami or France.
All this was done with United’s blessing, with sources telling ESPN that Pogba was allowed to travel the world during his rehabilitation. He has, United insist, have been sticking to his fitness program, but it’s just a shame that it never seems to be close enough to be a return to action to be able to stand in the hard yards at the club’s ca training center rrington.
United have delivered Pogba by allowing him to embark on his globetrotting fitness program, but that may be because they have dropped him so much since re-signing it four years ago that it’s a futile attempt to repay him for failure to deliver on the vision that was sold to him by the club. At the time, Pogba followed Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford because United wanted their place back at the top of English and European football. Pogba was the man who would lead this command on the pitch, along with giving the club a huge commercial lift thanks to its status as a social media phenomenon.
The first season went well, with United winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League, which ensured qualification to the Champions League and the money was spent again this summer to strengthen the team. But since the disastrous acquisition of Alexis Sanchez in January 2018, United have withdrawn from the big signings and allowed the team to fade. The great ambition that was sold to Pogba was not reflected by the recruitment of players and the winner of the 2018 World Cup will now look around the team and wonder how United can ever achieve their ambitions with a group of players who are just not good enough to take them to the next level.
Despite his infuriating flaws, Pogba is still a world-class attacking midfielder and a player capable of shining for a club like Real Madrid, Juventus or Barcelona. He could have, and should have, done more on the pitch to trantransgaming.org United to a better place than where they are now, but it is no surprise to see him now practically checking out of the club before this season has ended.
Sources told ESPN that some players and coaches at United have grown so tired of Pogba and his contribution this season that few tears will be shed when – rather than if – he moves on. But the big players don’t look to go anywhere else if their ambitions can be achieved where they already are – something United executive chairman Ed Woodward and Solskjaer will come to achieve. No one has come out of this saga with their reputation senhanced, but the only losers will be United.