Manchester United preparing for life after Paul Pogba as transfer away may be “already done”

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Ralf Rangnick may have raised one or two eyebrows earlier in the week when he suggested the rest of Paul Pogba’s season for Manchester United could essentially be an audition ahead of a free transfer away from Old Trafford in the summer.

However, for many inside the club, this has been on the cards for a while, with sources telling CaughtOffside that Pogba’s relationship with Man Utd has been strained for some time.

There are no specific issues between Rangnick and Pogba, but it’s been well publicised that the 28-year-old did not see eye to eye with Jose Mourinho, with the pair once famously pictured clashing on the training ground by Sky Sports cameras, while Mourinho referred to the player as a ‘virus’ in his squad.

Things improved in the early part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, but the writing was on the wall for Pogba when Bruno Fernandes was signed from Sporting Lisbon. The Portugal international was an instant hit at United, showing he could give the team everything they’d been expecting from Pogba in a central role.

Paul Pogba’s future most likely lies away from Manchester United

This led to Solskjaer even shifting Pogba out onto the left-hand side last season, signalling that the Norwegian tactician was no longer ready to build around the former Juventus man. This tactical shift was not in itself a huge problem for Pogba, who showed some superb form in that area of the pitch, but it was one of many long-standing issues in a deteriorating relationship between the club and the player.

There has been little progress made on new contract talks for Pogba, and one source associated with United has told CaughtOffside that there is the feeling that “there’s something already done for next season” involving Pogba and a new club, though there’s no specific update on which club that could be.

Sources close to Pogba have even indicated that there’s been no fresh offer on the table from United for some time, while his agent Mino Raiola publicly stated that his client’s future lies away from Old Trafford.

United’s focus now seems to be on replacing Pogba, with Rangnick understood to be keen on signing either Amadou Haidara or Denis Zakaria.

Other senior figures at MUFC, however, seem to be focusing on Jude Bellingham or Declan Rice as top targets for the midfield, with Luke Chadwick singing the praises of the pair when he spoke to CaughtOffside earlier in the week.

“They’re two fantastic players,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside. “It’s a huge choice. I’d probably lean towards Bellingham – someone a bit younger, but with European experience at Dortmund.

“Obviously Declan Rice has shown huge improvement, he’s really evolved as a player. He started out as a central defender and was sort of converted into a holding midfield player, but now he looks the complete midfield player. He gets box to box, carries the ball, has a good range of passing.

Jude Bellingham could be ideal to replace Paul Pogba at Man Utd

“Bellingham, a teenage sensation, he did well at Birmingham and has excelled since going to Dortmund. Again he’s got a bit of everything to his game, he’s good in possession and has high energy off the ball too.

“He’s someone who could really push United on. Having said that, you wouldn’t say no to Declan Rice either. It’s not a bad problem to have, if they can get one of those two in.”

After a string of poor signings, it’s vital that United get it right with Pogba’s replacement, but there already seems to be some disconnect between the kind of player Rangnick wants, and the kind preferred by John Murtough and Richard Arnold.

Former Man United ace names “long shot” managerial candidate to come in after Rangnick

Pogba himself has been one of the most contentious United signings of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, joining the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Angel Di Maria as a big name who couldn’t live up to expectations. Jadon Sancho already looks like he could be going down that route as well.

As Pogba’s time in Manchester fizzles out, it’s vital that the club take this chance to learn from how it all went wrong as they plan for life without him.

More Stories Bruno Fernandes Declan Rice Jude Bellingham Luke Chadwick Paul Pogba