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Keep or cash in? The curious case of Paul Pogba

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United's record signing is in demand

The future of Paul Pogba is always one of the hottest topics in the Premier League and this summer, it looks like he could be set to move on from Manchester United for the second time.

The 26 year-old World Cup winner is a man in-demand at the moment with Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid and former club Juventus interested in taking him away from Old Trafford, but it won't be easy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still sees the midfielder as an integral part of his plans for the future and they're keen to retain a player they paid a club record £89m for just three years ago. But comments made by the man himself recently won't please them, as it appears his mind is elsewhere.

When speaking on part of a promotional tour in Tokyo, he admitted that "it is a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else" which will be music to the ears of Zidane and new Juve boss Maurizio Sarri. But whether Pogba does indeed get made available for transfer or not, it will cost an outrageous sum of money for them to part with their prized asset.

United expect him to stay at the club but contingency plans have been made on the chance that they do indeed have to cash in on him - with them valuing the France international at a massive £150m. He still has two years to run on his deal in Manchester with the club holding the option to extend it by a further year, so the ball is really in United's court at the moment.

Paul Pogba Manchester United
Manchester United are believed to have placed a £150m price tag on Paul Pogba

It's clear that on his day Pogba is one of the best players not just in the Premier League but in the world, but his behaviour both on and off the pitch, along with his disruptive influence in the dressing room has led to concerns from United chiefs & could play a part in a possible departure.

Solskjaer is looking to kickstart a new era at Old Trafford, with younger, hungry players at the heart of it. Having a fully focused, prime Pogba would be a massive asset but if he's unhappy and a disruptive influence in the dressing room, it could be best for both parties if he was to move on.

So what should the Red Devils do?

Stick or twist?

Blockbuster, brilliant, elegant, flashy, frustrating.

Paul Pogba is an enigmatic talent who's shown us brief glimpses of the evident world class talent that he possesses, but his attitude and behaviour has seen him struggle to endear himself to the Manchester United supporters.

His high profile spats with Jose Mourinho and work rate on the pitch led to the fans turning on their club record signing at the back end of last season when results and performances turned sour. The Red Devils ended the campaign with just 2 wins in their previous 12 matches in all competitions, a run which included 8 defeats and the Frenchmen became the brunt of the fans frustrations - even leading to a confrontation with one of them on the final day when they were beaten by relegated Cardiff (2-0).

Incidents like this would appear to make Pogba's departure a matter of time right? A player who can be very disruptive and a negative influence, also one who's going to draw in bids of over £100m, surely seems like a no brainer.

Well it's his talent that's making this such a dilemma for United. They know just what a unique player they have on their hands. He's a World Cup winner, the only non-Manchester City or Liverpool player to make the 2018/19 PFA Team of the Year, a player who's capable of winning matches single handedly on his day and he's only 26 years-old - so he's approaching the prime years of his career with three years left to run on his contract.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to retain Paul Pogba, but the 26 year-olds recent comments won't have pleased him

And away from his importance on the pitch, he also provides plenty off it. United may not be competing with other elite clubs for silverware but where they do truly excel is the commercial aspect of the game. Only Real Madrid can compete with them when it comes to revenue and by having someone as marketable as Pogba on the books, it gives them a huge USP. He's arguably the biggest name in the Premier League and losing him would provide a massive blow on that front, especially if he ended up joining the La Liga giants.

But the ball is still firmly in United's court at the moment when it comes to a potential transfer. They don't need to sell and his current deal gives them flexibility, so it looks like a figure around the £150m mark is what it's going to take for them to let their no.6 leave.

Many Manchester United fans have directed the bulk of their anger at the Frenchmen but they would definitely disappointed to see their man leave. They know what a supremely gifted player he is and a club such as United aren't used to losing players that they'd like to keep, so it could potentially send out a negative message.

Should we expect any developments soon?

With Pogba still on his holidays and United not returning to pre-season training until 1st July, we'd be surprised to see any immediate news surrounding his future. When he originally returned to United from Juventus his deal didn't go through till 8th August and with all the complexities and finances involved in any deal this time around, we could see it dragging on into one of the summers big sagas.

His controversial quotes from his trip to Tokyo have only added fuel to the fire and United will have braced themselves for interest from the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid. They know they can keep him at the club until 2022 but after seeing how big his influence at the club is during the back-end of the Mourinho days, along with the conclusion of last season, keeping him there against his will doesn't hold too much value.

Solskjaer and his players are due to fly out to Australia on 7th July for the start of their pre-season tour, so he'll be keen to get to the bottom of Pogba's comments by then and see if he's still wanting/willing to buy into the Norwegian's philosophy at Old Trafford.

But that interview doesn't spell good news for the Red Devils and if a monster bid does come in for him, we'd be very surprised to see United hang onto him. Solskjaer will be keen to get this resolved sooner rather than later so he can start building his new look side and getting them familiarised with their new surroundings.

This is season is an absolutely massive one in the modern history of Manchester United and they simply cannot afford passengers, no matter how good they are on their day.