Pogba wants to stay, insists Mourinho

By AFP
Published: August 10, 2018
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER: Jose Mourinho insists Paul Pogba remains happy and motivated at Manchester United despite reports claiming the France star is unsettled and wants to join Barcelona.

Following a successful summer in which he helped France to win the World Cup, Pogba’s future at United has been the subject of speculation over the last week of the Premier League transfer window.

It is understood United officials have grown increasingly weary and suspicious of Pogba’s high-profile agent Mino Raiola, whom they blame for stories that his client would prefer to play for Barcelona.

The former Juventus midfielder was among a handful of United players who only returned to pre-season training on Monday, after their countries advanced to the World Cup semi-finals.

But Mourinho insists that while he will talk to Pogba before deciding when exactly to re-introduce him to competitive first team action, he has been happy with his attitude and first few days back in training in Manchester.

“My perception is he arrived Monday, happy, proud, with a desire to work,” said Mourinho. “He worked amazingly well Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. He’s one of the players that I have to speak to see how physically and mentally he feels. I see him very well but we need words to see if they can give us a hand.”

Another player who has come through an uncertain summer with United is Anthony Martial, who was left out of his France’s World Cup squad, prompting comments from his agent that he wished to leave Old Trafford to safeguard his international future.

While the United hierarchy is known to be reluctant to sell the young striker, Mourinho has endured a trying time in his relationship with Martial after he left United’s American pre-season tour to attend the birth of his child and did not return – missing nine days of training.

That will hardly have endeared Martial, who was left out of the weekend friendly against Bayern Munich, to Mourinho, although the manager insisted that omission was not a punishment.

“He didn’t have a pre-season, three days of pre-season,” said Mourinho. “He had nine days of pre-season where no training, no football, absolutely nothing. He’s in the group of players who didn’t have a pre-season, it’s as simple as that. You try to make a case and there is no case in it. For nine days he didn’t train so he’s to start again.”

Mourinho’s relationship with players like Pogba and Martial has come under close scrutiny, as have the manager’s mood swings over the club’s failure to complete key signings he wanted in the transfer window.

But Mourinho, entering his third season in charge at Old Trafford, claimed, in typically confrontational fashion, that there are no problems in his squad or in his commitment to the club.

“I have my players and I like my players, I like to work with my players,” said Mourinho. “One lie repeated 1,000 times is still a lie, but the perception of people is that it’s true.”

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