Jose Mourinho wants to sell Paul Pogba in January — and is insisting the Manchester United board back him. The warring pair clashed again at training on Wednesday, this time in a running two-minute spat that was captured by TV cameras.
Pogba is desperate to join Barcelona, just two years after returning to United for a then world-record £89million — and Mourinho is as keen to get rid of a man who was a key member of France’s World Cup-winning squad this summer as soon as possible.
United believe their best chance of receiving a new world-record £200m transfer fee is to wait until next summer, but their manager wants a deal done earlier.
The latest chapter in the feud between Mourinho and Pogba unfolded at the start of a training session for players, such as Pogba, who were not involved in the previous night’s shock Carabao Cup defeat by Championship visitors Derby.
Pogba emerged for training and, after high-fiving coach and former team-mate Michael Carrick, stared down Mourinho after the manager appeared to fail to offer him a handshake.
After the player also high-fived media relations officer John Allen, Mourinho continued the verbal exchange as the pair walked away.
Pogba joined a small training group, which appeared to annoy Mourinho, who called over Allen to apparently act as a go-between in a discussion about a posting on Instagram.
The episode ended with the midfielder spreading his arms wide in dismay, then shrugging in disbelief.
Pogba began and finished the session, and flicked a ‘V’ sign at photographers later as he drove away from the training ground.
He is said to have been livid at his latest snub from Mourinho, which came less than 24 hours after the Portuguese told him he would never captain United under him again.
Mourinho stripped Pogba – who has worn the armband three times already this season – of the vice-captaincy in front of the other players for maximum effect, telling the World Cup winner he did not possess the qualities required of a leader.
He has finally lost patience with Pogba’s public posturing and griping about the stye of play and the 25-year-old’s efforts to lay the groundwork for a move away – just two years after returning to Old Trafford for a second spell following four years with Juventus.
The club refused to sell forward Anthony Martial in the summer against Mourinho’s wishes, and also blocked his attempts to buy Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld.
Pogba, for his part, was furious at the manner in which the manager tried to publicly humiliate him, and the episode is said to have served to strengthen his resolve to force through a move to Barca when the window opens in January.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the rest of the board were against Pogba being sold, which is why the stood firm in the summer and told him he was going nowhere. But there is now an acceptance among the top brass that the relationship between manager and player cannot be allowed to continue to poison the club and must be addressed.
Pogba going is the only solution, and though United would prefer to wait until next summer for that to happen, the Frenchman and his agent, Mino Raiola, want out at the next available opportunity.
Spanish champions Barca are unlikely to be able to take Pogba in January however — unless United were to drop their expected asking price in a bid to secure a quick sale.
The Catalan giants already have plenty of top-notch midfield personnel and would need to jettison players in order to make way for Pogba, which is easier to do in the longer summer window than midway through a season.