Paul Pogba has given a strong indication that he wants to leave Manchester United to seek a “new challenge”.
The French World Cup winner rejoined United from Juventus for a then-world record £89 million (S$153.5 million) fee three years ago, but has largely failed to live up to expectations.
The 26-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid or even a return to Juventus, with United having failed to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The Frenchman’s time at United has coincided with some insipid performances on the pitch and organisational turmoil at the club.
His comments come just days after teammate Romelu Lukaku also dropped hints that he wanted to leave United for Inter Milan.
“Like you said, there is a lot of talking and a lot of thinking as well,” Pogba told reporters in Tokyo.
“For me, I have been for three years in Manchester and have been doing great; some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody.
“Like everywhere else.
“After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well… I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.
“I am thinking of this – to have a new challenge somewhere else.”
Despite scoring 16 goals this campaign, half of which came from the penalty spot, Pogba was often criticised for his performances under both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United limped to a sixth-placed finish in the English Premier League.
Although inconsistent, the World Cup winner has scored 24 goals in 92 appearances for United and was named in last season’s PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
While Pogba has signalled his intent to leave Old Trafford, a move to play for France legend Zinedine Zidane at Real – which is reportedly his preferred option – won’t be straightforward.
United owners, the Glazers, have reportedly said that they are not willing to entertain bids for the midfielder.
However, Spanish daily ABC reported that Pogba will threaten to go on strike and not turn up for pre-season training if he is not allowed to leave Old Trafford.
Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon told Sky Sports last week: “It’s not easy.
“A player like that, Manchester United are not going to (let him) go without a lot of money.
“I know they have been talking about 170 million euros (S$151.2m).
“It’s an opportunity, but Manchester United have to wait because the player has a contract until 2021.
“Knowing he is an important player who is young, and knowing that Zidane is continually asking for him, they can wait in the office for a lot of money in a suitcase.
“That’s if they want to sell him, and also the player has the last word.”
Real have already spent over £300m on new players and will likely have to sell players to be able to afford Pogba.
In Italy, meanwhile, La Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttosport have reported that Juventus vice-president Pavel Nedved is set to meet Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola to discuss deals for the Frenchman and Matthijs de Ligt.
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