Paul Pogba has left the chat
Paul Pogba has told his Manchester United team-mates he will be leaving this summer, with the Mirror also reporting he has left the squad’s group chat on WhatsApp. An injury against Liverpool on the weekend has ruled Pogba out for the remainder of the season, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, interim boss Ralf Rangnick conceded the Frenchman may well have played his last game for the club. Pogba has offers to join both Real Madrid and PSG as a free agent, likewise Barcelona.
Paper Round’s view: A Guardian article on Monday said we should view Pogba wasting his prime years at United with sadness, not scorn, and that pretty much sums it up. Here’s hoping the next chapter brings a return to form, because there is a world-class player there capable of carrying teams, not just warming benches for them.
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Ten Hag plans talks
New United manager Erik ten Hag will hold virtual talks with each player over the next three weeks, including players like Pogba who are out of contract – the Mirror reports. Ten Hag wants to gauge his captaincy options, as well as which players no longer want to play at Old Trafford. The desire to speak with the players soon will allow the Dutchman to start his overhaul as soon as possible, despite the fact he does not officially take charge until June.
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Paper Round’s view: Sensible stuff, of course, although with a Eredivisie title not yet wrapped up, you would think Ajax wouldn’t mind if he waited a little longer than three weeks. They’re currently four points clear with four games to play, and would unlikely take it well if Ten Hag seems a little distracted.
Some players doubt Ten Hag
Sticking with United, The Times reports players at the club are “devoid of belief and confidence” under Rangnick, while some also fear Ten Hag is not strong enough to lift them out of their current slump. Sources have described the dressing room as toxic, while Jesse Lingard told Paul Scholes it was a “disaster” after the 3-1 loss to Arsenal. United’s Champions League hopes are diminishing by the game, with both Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of them in the fight for fourth.
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Paper Round’s view: The Ten Hag concerns are nothing new, but you have to wonder who these sources are, and which players have such doubts. You would imagine, with Ten Hag eager to press the reset button, that he will try and find these doubters and get them out of the club. Pessimists before a project even starts will hardly help the cause.
AC Milan join race for Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez is attracting interest from Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG, and Foot Mercato reports AC Milan are also looking into the possibility of signing the Manchester City forward. The Algerian will have a year remaining on his contract this summer, meaning City could look to cash-in as opposed to losing him on a free 12 months later.
Paper Round’s view: Something will have to give if Erling Haaland arrives at City, but that could just be Gabriel Jesus making way. Unless they have other names in mind, it is difficult to see other players leaving, although the contract situation does make Mahrez’s future more precarious than most.
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