Manchester United could reportedly be willing to let record-signing Paul Pogba leave the club this summer in a swap deal with Paris Saint-Germain ace Marco Verratti, if manager Jose Mourinho fails to get the best out of the France international.
The Independent's Miguel Delaney reported intermediaries are readying "contingency plans" if the relationship between Mourinho and Pogba fails to improve. One such option is a trade for Verratti.
PSG midfielder Verratti has been touted as a long-term target for the Red Devils, and sending the man not long ago seen as the pride of France's midfield to the Parc des Princes could be one way to convince the Ligue 1 club to part ways.
Delaney added that United "still value Pogba" and "all involved are determined to make it work," but that a possible swap is even being talked about highlights the problems between the two parties.
Tensions at Old Trafford are at a high following their disappointing UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla on Tuesday.
Broadcaster Jan Aage Fjortoft outlined Pogba's failure to meet expectations since his 2016 return to United as proof the collective should always be valued over the individual:
Pogba moved back to Manchester from Juventus almost two seasons ago, but he hasn't played to the same standards he hit in Turin since his comeback and has even been dropped by Mourinho on occasion this term.
Verratti also made headlines in the Champions League after he was sent off in PSG's last-16 defeat to Real Madrid, although that embarrassing moment doesn't mask what he is accomplishing this season, per WhoScored.com:
Tactics and improper direction have been discussed as major factors why Pogba hasn't dazzled as hoped since his return from Italy, but there comes a point at which the onus is simply on the player to perform better.
Broadcaster Deji Faremi suggested in January that Pogba isn't the right fit for what United need in their engine room and that Verratti would make for a better fit in that regard:
The Red Devils likely expected little could go wrong in re-signing Pogba from Juve for a club-record £89 million sum almost two years ago, but he hasn't lived up to that price tag.
Pogba's latest disappointment came after he was substituted on against Sevilla on Tuesday, but United legend Roy Keane was far from impressed with his contribution off the bench, via ITV Sport:
Verratti has a stronger box-to-box grounding to his game—he's made an average of 2.6 tackles per game this season, while Pogba has averaged half that, per WhoScored.com. Verratti has also made 91.3 passes per game on average this season, while Pogba has made roughly 33 percent less with 61.3 passes per game.
Pogba and Verratti share Mino Raiola as an agent, which could help smooth over a prospective swap deal, but much would have to change for it to progress from the planning stage.