Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been described as ‘open’ to discussing a new contract with the club beyond his current deal that is due to expire in the summer of 2022.
Pogba’s future at Old Trafford has been the subject of speculation and uncertainty since 2018 when he first appeared to be at odds with then manager Jose Mourinho, and agent Mino Raiola supposedly offered the Frenchman to Manchester City.
After briefly flirting with Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 and missing much of last through long-term injury, which only served to intensify the rumours of an exit, Pogba then looked as though he could sign a new United contract following a successful run of form during ‘Project Restart’.
But a difficult start to 2020/21 once more raised fresh questions and Raiola looked to have reached the point of no return when he told an Italian newspaper that it was ‘over’ at United.
There have been that many back and forths in this saga over several years, but journalist and author Andy Mitten has said in a Q&A for the club’s supporters group in Scandinavia that he has been informed that Pogba is ‘open’ to discussions over a new contract.
That would be a significant U-turn from what Raiola had claimed in December, with the notoriously outspoken agent even appearing to back-track on his own words when he said last month he will no longer speak about Pogba’s future in public.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already stated that the club has a healthy ‘open dialogue’ with Pogba with regard to the player’s future and contract situation.
Pogba himself spoke about a ‘new challenge’ in 2019 and has refused to rule out ever playing for Real Madrid at some point in the future, but his public comments more recently have generally pointed to staying at United being more likely than a transfer away.
Even in the same interview in October when he was asked about Real Madrid and admitted it would be a ‘dream’ of his someday, he still expressed his ‘love’ for United.
The biggest obstacle stopping Pogba from leaving United is the lack of market for his signature. The coronavirus pandemic has served to accelerate a transfer market that was already shrinking anyway as clubs increasingly look to move away from unsustainable buying.
The likes of Real Madrid and Juventus are not flush with cash, and Real in particular are expected to have to sell a number of players just to raise the capital needed to sign number one target Kylian Mbappe, who unlike the soon to be 28-year-old Pogba is still at the beginning of his career.
Even before the pandemic struck and obliterated club revenues and budgets, Real were rumoured to have never been fully serious about pursuing Pogba in 2019, aware that it probably wasn’t financially viable and instead going through the motions to appease the various parties.
At this stage, it would arguably be more of a risk for Pogba to run down his United contract and chance his arm in free agency because the big deals simply won’t be out there.