Jose Mourinho does not intend to place Paul Pogba on the summer transfer market and is working to elicit the best campaign of the midfielder’s career from the France international next season.
The Manchester United manager believes Pogba possesses the technical and physical qualities to establish himself as one of the world’s best footballers, but has stalled his own development by losing a degree of focus on the sport. The 25-year-old has trained poorly and failed to deliver in key matches, leading Mourinho to exclude the club’s record signing from United’s starting line up in recent weeks.
“Jose likes the player, but the player does not have his head in football,” a friend told Yahoo Sports. “Pogba is not focused on football, he has his head in music, in hairstyles, in shoes.”
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It is understood that Mourinho has discussed the issue with France coach Didier Deschamps ahead of a World Cup campaign in which Pogba is expected to be central his national team’s campaign.
Deschamps is said to have been sympathetic to Mourinho’s approach, leaving Pogba out of his starting XI for France’s subsequent friendly international against Colombia. He scored a wonderful free-kick on his return on Tuesday against Russia.
With both club and national team manager agreed on the need to press Pogba to reapply himself to the game, the hope is that the midfielder and his entourage will cease complaining about the tactical work he has been asked to do on the football pitch and commit to justifying his €105million transfer fee.
“This is a situation that he must not appreciate because of everything he would have been able to offer,” Deschamps said last week. “There must be numerous reasons. He cannot be happy with what he is going through with his club.
“It’s not specific to Paul. It can happen elsewhere that a player is a bit down or is going through a particular situation with his club. That could be Paul now, or others at other times. And I will do as I always do and talk to that player to understand better, because I don’t have all the information.”
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Coercing improved performances from individuals he believes capable of reaching greater heights through conflict has always been an important component of Mourinho’s management style. A facet of the Portuguese’s coaching noted by Didier Drogba this week. “It’s been hot between us,” Drogba said. “But Jose is never going to attack people he does not like. He likes Paul a lot. That’s why he’s given him a lot of responsibilities.”
Publicly, Mourinho has repeatedly emphasised Pogba’s qualities. “With so many opinions – and we are in a world of opinions – people can get a little bit confused, but between me and Paul there are no confusions,” Mourinho said recently.
“He is a midfield player and that’s it. And it is difficult to find a midfield player with more potential than Paul has. Because Paul has everything.”