Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ruled out a January exit for Paul Pogba, with agent Mino Raiola saying his client wants to stay at Manchester United and “win prizes”.
Speculation has been rife about the 26-year-old’s future ever since the World Cup winner admitted over the summer that he was open to a new challenge elsewhere.
Pogba has only appeared six times since then due to an ankle injury and a report on Thursday evening suggested that team-mates and club officials felt the midfielder had almost certainly played his last game for United.
A post shared by Paul Labile Pogba (@paulpogba) on Oct 19, 2019 at 4:05am PDT
Real Madrid have a long-standing interest in the France international but Solskjaer insists he is not leaving Old Trafford during the January window.
“He’s not getting sold in January, no,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s training but he’s not been training with us for long. He’s training and that’s a step forward for us.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) November 30, 2019
“Yeah, of course (I understand all the interest around him) because he’s a fantastic player, a charismatic personality and for us we’re happy that he’s here.”
Solskjaer had expected to have Pogba back before the end of the year, only for illness to hamper his return to first-team training.
He will again be absent when United travel to Watford on Sunday but the midfielder was seen in good spirits on Friday, just hours after the manager sung his praises once again.
“When he comes back, play well, play with a smile on his face and do what he did a year ago when I came here,” Solskjaer said when asked how Pogba stops the background noise.
“Paul was fantastic. He has been fantastic when he’s played for us.
“We know that we’ve got one of the best players in the world when he’s playing well, when he gets fit.
“He needs time to get fit of course but he’ll make a difference for us.”
Pogba’s outspoken agent Raiola fuelled speculation over the summer but now says his client wants to stay at Old Trafford.
“Paul wants to be successful and happy and wants to win prizes and he would love to do that with Manchester United,” Raiola told the Daily Telegraph.
“OK, there was big interest from Real Madrid and Manchester didn’t let him go. We didn’t make a fuss about it and he didn’t make a fuss about it because I work in accordance with the player.
“You know other players can bring things to extreme but Paul doesn’t like that. So you work differently.
“There was an interest from Real Madrid but they didn’t let him go and I’m sorry because I think that Paul being French then (Zinedine) Zidane is an important factor in French football history.
“But Paul is not the guy I hear about from (Gary) Neville and all the frustrated ex-players who say, ‘he should be ashamed of this, ashamed of that’. Ashamed of what? He is working every day and doing his best.
“He’s not complaining there is no Champions League. Is he perfect? Nobody is. Is he also responsible for failure? He feels so. If you are in a team you are responsible for failure.”
Raiola, who expressed his belief that United lack a clear identity and need a sporting director, added: “I think that Paul really went home (when rejoining the club in 2016). Paul could have gone elsewhere.
“But he really chose with his heart, to go home. Paul is a very, very nice person.
“For example, he’s not able to be angry at Ole because Ole treated him so good when Ole was an older player and Paul was a younger player and the respect and the love that he received from Ole means he cannot get angry at Ole.”