LONDON (REUTERS) – Hardly a week goes by without record signing Paul Pogba’s future at Manchester United caught up in a swirl of speculation.
It is becoming an unedifying Old Trafford sideshow that is hardly helping the cause of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
This week, ahead of United’s calamitous defeat against RB Leipzig that dumped them out of the Champions League, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola said the French midfielder was unhappy at the club and should move in the next transfer window.
Solskjaer hit back at Raiola, saying Pogba was focused on doing his best for the team.
The reality is though that the 27-year-old, re-signed from Juventus in 2016 for £89 million (S$158.2 million), has started only five of United’s Premier League games this season and was only a substitute in Tuesday’s crucial clash with Leipzig.
Former United striker Dimitar Berbatov said it is clear that Solskjaer lacks confidence in Pogba and suggests it is time to part ways with a player who has never consistently produced his best form for the club.
“I can understand if Paul is not happy, I bet he isn’t because he isn’t playing, it’s obvious, when he comes on as a sub and has very little game time he won’t be happy,” Berbatov said in an interview with bookmakers Betfair.
“If this situation continues then I think it’s best if they part ways. If he is genuinely unhappy and he continues to be left out of the starting 11, it’s best for him to move on.
“I still think Pogba’s a great player, and like every great player it’s normal to have ups and downs. But, with him, there have been more downs than ups this campaign and there are different factors in play as to why that is.”
After a run of four successive Premier League wins which moved United up to sixth it appeared their season was beginning to pick up speed. Yet a 3-2 defeat by Leipzig, not to mention the Pogba situation, has hardly been an ideal way to prepare for Saturday’s home derby against Manchester City.
Once again Solskjaer’s future is under a cloud and Berbatov sympathises with the Norwegian.
“Every bad result brings up questions about Solskjaer’s future,” Berbatov said. “It makes me wonder how he takes all of this – every morning opening the newspaper and seeing journalists asking, will this be his last day in the job?
“At the moment, I still think the club have his back. Beating City would be the perfect way to bounce back from losing to Leipzig.”