Report: Manchester United Officials Believe Paul Pogba Won't Play for Club Again

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Paul Pogba of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Some Manchester United officials and players reportedly believe Paul Pogba has played his last game for the club, with rumours circulating that the midfielder is eyeing the Old Trafford exit in January.

Pogba's last appearance for the Red Devils was in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal on September 30, and the Mirror's David McDonnell wrote he may not return before attempting a January departure.

However, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rejected any suggestion of a winter transfer when he addressed the media on Friday, per Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Solskjaer also promises Paul Pogba will not be sold in January. No guarantee he will play before the end of the year, though. #mufc

An ankle injury has kept the £89 million signing sidelined for almost three months, but McDonnell said suspicions were raised after a "mystery illness" delayed his return to training.

Solskjaer told reporters Pogba was now back in full training, suggesting he could be on the verge of a long-awaited return, per broadcaster Bill Rice:

ᗷIᒪᒪ ᖇIᑕᕮ 🎙📻 @billrice23

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Paul Pogba is training back with the team. Not ready to play this weekend though, says squad similar to last few weeks. #MUFC

The 26-year-old has been linked with Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid in recent transfer windows, with Pogba's United contract set to expire in June 2021 (with the option of an additional year).

Zidane has been candid regarding his admiration of his French compatriot in the past, and he told reporters in March that there are "few players who bring as much as he does." Those comments came a little more than one week after Pogba appeared at a press conference and described Real as a "dream club." 

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner later stoked speculation of an exit again in June when he said he felt it could "be a good time for a new challenge," via the Guardian:

Guardian sport @guardian_sport

Paul Pogba alerts Real Madrid with talk of ‘time to have a new challenge’ https://t.co/YUNiXZWnPJ https://t.co/hvXla0CyhM

Pogba first joined United from Le Havre in July 2009, aged 16, but he left the club for free to join Juventus three years later. He rejoined the Manchester giants in 2016 for a club-record fee but has failed to lift United back to their former position of power in European football.

The Red Devils are sixth in the Premier League and enjoying a six-match unbeaten run, having defeated Colchester United 3-0 on Wednesday to set up a Carabao Cup semi-final opposite Manchester City:

McDonnell wrote Solskjaer was "unable to confirm when the midfielder will play again," though it looks unlikely he'll have any part in Sunday's Premier League visit to Watford.  

They host Newcastle United on Boxing Day before visiting Burnley on December 28 in their final fixture of 2019, after which the opening of the January transfer window adds a hint of uncertainty to Pogba's fate.