Pogba rumour is just agent talk: Solskjaer

Manchester United's coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attends a press conference ahead of the team's pre-season friendly football matches against Perth Glory and Leeds United at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 10, 2019.
Manchester United's coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attends a press conference ahead of the team's pre-season friendly football matches against Perth Glory and Leeds United at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 10, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

United boss says no bids for star midfielder so far, Red Devils not under pressure to offload players

LONDON • Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer yesterday dismissed speculation that Paul Pogba is to leave Old Trafford, insisting there had been "no bids" for the midfielder while taking a dig at his agent Mino Raiola.

The World Cup winner's future has overshadowed the Premier League club's pre-season tour since they arrived in Perth on Monday, with Real Madrid and Juventus rumoured as possible destinations.

Raiola has also fanned the flames by stating for the second time in five days that the player wants to leave this summer, telling British radio station Talksport on Tuesday that "everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on".

"The club know his feelings," he said. "Hopefully, there will soon be a satisfying solution for all parties. The player has done nothing wrong. He has been professional and respectful."

But Solskjaer said in Perth it was "business as usual", adding that the club were under no pressure to offload Pogba or anyone else.

Ahead of Saturday's friendly with A-League side Perth Glory, he called the rumour-mongering "a media agenda against Paul", adding: "When you are at Manchester United, you expect all these things to pop up in the summer, agent talk all the time.

"He's a top, top bloke. He's a great professional. He's never been any problem."

Footage posted on social media on Tuesday showed Pogba and teammate Jesse Lingard at loggerheads, with British media speculating that it was over the former's unhappiness at being included in their touring squad.

RUMOUR MAGNET

When you are at Manchester United, you expect all these things to pop up in the summer, agent talk all the time.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, Manchester United manager, on claims by Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola that he wants to leave.

PRUDENT BUSINESS

We are patient. We don't have to overspend. We want the right players for the right price.

SOLSKJAER, on his transfer plans.

But Solskjaer was adamant there had been no bust-up and that the France midfielder had been singled out unfairly by the press.

He said: "Jesse and Paul were walking around and it's been portrayed as a fight between the two boys. There are no problems between the boys. Pre-season has been very good so far."

Uncertainty has also surrounded David de Gea's future, but Solskjaer added that he was optimistic about the Spain goalkeeper remaining at Old Trafford, despite only one year left on his contract.

"David has had a summer where he's been negotiating and we hope we're going to get it sorted," he said. "I'm positive, of course. With David, I've said many times how lucky I am and happy we are to have him in goal."

United have been linked with Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina and Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen among others, but the United boss is keeping his cards close to his chest, having already brought in England Under-21 defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Wales forward Daniel James.

Confirming he was "still in the market looking to do some business", the Norwegian said: "We are patient. We don't have to overspend. We want the right players for the right price."

The Red Devils have been granted permission to speak to Gabon midfielder Lemina, who was omitted from the Saints' pre-season training camp in Austria.

Southampton are hoping to recoup the £18.5 million (S$31.4 million) paid to lure Lemina from Juventus two years ago and, with his box-to-box qualities, he would fill the gap, partially at least, should Pogba leave.

United will next play Championship side Leeds in Perth on Wednesday before flying to Singapore to face Italian Serie A club Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup on July 20 at the National Stadium.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline 'Pogba rumour is just agent talk: Solskjaer'. Print Edition | Subscribe