Manchester United are expecting Paul Pogba to leave the club for free once his contract expires at the end of the season.
That’s according to a recent report from ESPN, who claims interim manager Ralf Rangnick has instructed the Red Devils to up their efforts of signing a new midfielder in time for next season.
Although linked with several names, including Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans and West Ham’s Declan Rice, ESPN claim another playmaker has emerged as a candidate to arrive at Old Trafford in the summer – RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
With Pogba likely to leave at the end of the current campaign and the club continuing to struggle on the pitch, midfield reinforcements are likely to be high on the club’s summer agenda.
Speaking recently about the uncertainty surrounding Pogba, Rangnick (as quoted by Guardian), said: “It’s not a question if a player has an expiring contract, the question is how much does he still want to be a part of this group, how much does he still feel emotionally and physically on board.
“As long as this is the case, why shouldn’t Paul Pogba now, after two and a half months of injury, fully fit again, and he wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world what kind of player he can be? Even if it’s only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that and why should I then not play him?
“But there is a difference in how players deal with their current situation. If they handle that in a professional way, an ambitious way, I will play players although they have a contract expiring in the summer.”
However, when it comes to Nkunku, 24 – he is understood to be wanted by a whole host of top European clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Real Madrid, and while United’s interest doesn’t stretch back as far as others’, Rangnick’s advice has prompted the club to focus their scouting efforts on the versatile Frenchman.
With his contract set to expire at the end of next season, it is perhaps no surprise to see some of Europe’s big hitters begin to circle.
However, discussing the possibility of seeing the 24-year-old depart the Red Bull Arena this summer, global head of football Oliver Mintzlaff, who spoke to Sky Germany (as quoted by Sports Cafe), said: “He [Nkunku] will also play with us next season because of course he is a very important player.
“In football nothing is ever certain, but that’s our plan.
“We don’t have many players who can leave us in the summer. We want to strengthen the team rather than weaken it.”
Nkunku, 24, joined RB Leipzig in 2019 following a £11.7m move from French side Paris-Saint Germain.
Since his arrival in Germany’s top-flight, the 24-year-old has gone on to feature in 115 matches, in all competitions, directly contributing to 71 goals, along the way.