Manchester United are rumoured to be drawing up a shortlist of potential replacements should Paul Pogba leave Old Trafford this summer, with Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde billed as one possible option to fill the void the Frenchman could leave behind.
Pogba will only have one year left on his United contract at the end of the season and outspoken super-agent Mino Raiola has made no secret of his desire to secure a transfer for his client.
Raiola declared in December that Pogba was at the end of the road in Manchester and wanted to leave the club. The player himself has always been much more diplomatic about his future and said since his agent’s controversial comments that he still wants to win major trophies with United.
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Raiola appeared to back down in his stance last month when he said he would no longer talk about Pogba’s future in public and would instead only conduct future business in private, which probably should have been the case all along.
Whether there is actually a market for Pogba will also determine how likely he is to leave United.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have all been heavily linked in the past, but the coronavirus pandemic has served to accelerate the bubble bursting when it comes to big money transfers.
None of those three clubs are flush with cash. Real will have to sell several players to afford primary target Kylian Mbappe, while Barcelona have spiralling debts estimated to have hit €1bn and Juventus would likely have to sell Cristiano Ronaldo before they can afford to hand out more big contracts.
Even so it would be extremely poor on United’s part if Pogba was to leave and they hadn’t at least planned for the possibility. The Sun claims a list of names to target as replacements for the 2018 World Cup winner has been prepared in case.
Valverde is said to be one of the names on the list. The 22-year-old enjoyed a breakout season as a regular first-teamer with Real Madrid in 2019/20, having previously been developed by Uruguayan giants Penarol – the same club from which United bought Facundo Pellistri.
Valverde is thought to have a release clause worth €170m (£148m), although it is suggested that United would not go ‘anywhere near’ that figure and any deal would have to be negotiated down.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer maintains that the club has a ‘good open dialogue’ with Pogba.
“We've got a good open dialogue with Paul, so what we talk about and how we see that situation remains between us of course,” Solskjaer said on the matter recently.
Should Pogba agree a new contract at Old Trafford it would see him commit his long-term future to the club and remove the need for possible replacements to be brought in.