Paul Pogba has given Manchester United a simple decision to make with latest Real Madrid comments

The Man Utd midfielder has dropped another hint that he wants a Real Madrid transfer, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a decision to make. Someti...

The Man Utd midfielder has dropped another hint that he wants a Real Madrid transfer, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a decision to make.

Sometimes you wonder whether footballers realise that quotes can be translated in an instant these days. Even Twitter, or your chosen Internet browser, will have a good stab at translating French into English.

Maybe Paul Pogba didn't realise this when addressing his future in a press conference while on international duty for France. On second thoughts, perhaps he did. Unlike for his challenge on Ben Davies for Tottenham Hotspur's penalty at the weekend, on this occasion the Manchester United midfielder's timing was impeccable.

He and his agent Mino Raiola are far too smart not to have anticipated the impact this latest set of choice quotes will have, and it is no coincidence that they come days after the summer transfer window closed. A nice gap in the news for Pogba's 'transfer hint' to reverberate around social media. Next stop, January 2021 and a new transfer saga surrounding United. Move aside, Jadon Sancho.

To be fair to Pogba, there were enough caveats in his comments to make them seem vaguely respectable on the surface; those kind of shallow commitments to United that punctuate the parts when he was overtly batting his eyelashes in the direction of Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid.

"Today, I am still at Manchester United and I am fighting to try to take the club even higher."

"We have all heard these things that have been said," he added, referring to the transfer speculation around him — although, to be honest, there really wasn't much around Pogba in the summer window just gone.

Then came the crunch, when Pogba asked himself a question and the response was never going to be good news for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "What to respond? Yes, all footballers would like to play for Real Madrid," he said. "Maybe it is a dream. It is a dream for me, why not one day?"

Ah, another question, leaving the situation open to interpretation, before Pogba hastily added in those parts about United again: "As I have said, I am at Manchester United and I like my club.

"I am performing at Manchester United, I am enjoying myself and I want to do everything I can to get the club back to where it deserves to be. I am going to give my maximum, like my teammates. I prefer to concentrate on football."

Pogba and his representatives may think that their timing on this is smart, yet many United fans will feel insulted that he's chosen to link himself with Real Madrid just four days on from an utterly lamentable personal and team performance against Tottenham.

The Pogba that we saw at Old Trafford on Sunday was not a player capable of gaining Galactico status and gracing the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Not even close.

But then if the summer has taught football fans anything, it's that transfers rule the roost.

So with Pogba seemingly happy to sit it out at United through the summer window, January becomes key.

United are holding some key cards, however, in the Pogba scenario, despite everything. Although the 27-year-old sees his contract expire in June 2021, Ed Woodward and his fellow decision-makers can trigger a 12-month extension on their own terms. That keeps Pogba at the club until June 2022 and means, in short, United cannot lose him for free next summer. But it rather makes a sale in the next two windows something close to inevitable.

At least in midfield Solskjaer now has options. When Pogba returns from international duty with France, he may well find himself on the United bench. Donny van de Beek has offered more promise than the Frenchman in recent weeks and deserves a start. Some theorised that the Dutchman was actually signed as Pogba's midfield heir and, while there's no definite way of proving such a statement, you feel United's current midfield would cope without Pogba. There's Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay competing for places as well as Van de Beek.

Yes, Pogba was excellent alongside Fernandes and Nemanja Matic when football resumed post-lockdown in the summer. On his day, there are few better, without a doubt.

But since his then world record transfer back to United in 2016, 'Pogba's day' hasn't come often enough. So the club have to agree to sell the player while they can still fetch an acceptable fee for him, either in January or next summer. They could renew their interest in Jack Grealish or James Maddison if they want a replacement, or invest in a more defensive-minded midfield player.

Trigger the extra year, (try to) keep Pogba playing to a decent standard, and then move on.

United will find the decision on Paul Pogba is now a lot simpler

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