Paul Pogba set to start the season with Man Utd - but PSG remain interested in midfielder

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Manchester United's Paul Pogba looks dejected. - REUTERS
Manchester United's Paul Pogba looks dejected. - REUTERS

Paul Pogba is set to start the season in Manchester United’s squad before making a decision on his future before the transfer windows across Europe close next month.

The France midfielder, whose current contract expires in 11 months, has never formally rejected United’s contract offer for him to stay at the club but is ready to take his time over his next move.

After joining up with United’s squad this week, he is likely to start the season in nine days’ time in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad when they face Leeds United in their Premier League opener on Aug 14. He was due back last week but his return was delayed when the club had a Covid-19 outbreak.

Paris Saint-Germain are interested in Pogba and are watching his situation carefully. Their season in Ligue 1 starts at the weekend and business is unlikely next week on the eve of United’s season, meaning the 28-year-old’s future will be in the spotlight during the season when the window is still open.

Last season the Premier League reverted to their Aug 31 deadline to get transfers done, rather than closing the market before the season, leaving a two-week period of time when players are in action while their futures are up in the air.

This will also give United a window of opportunity where Pogba is playing in front of supporters again and they can make their feelings clear on whether they want him to stay at Old Trafford in the long-term.

While returning to Paris looks like a move to suit all parties, a deal may not be straightforward.

When Pogba was linked with PSG, supporters displayed a banner at their Parc des Princes stadium reading: “Pogba, you should listen to your mother. She doesn't want you here, neither do we.” The reference to Pogba’s mother refers to her being a fan of bitter rivals Marseille.

Mauricio Pochettino is already well-stocked in midfield and has added Gini Wijnaldum to a squad containing Marco Verratti, Leandro Paredes, Danilo Pereira, Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye.

While Pochettino would welcome Pogba into his midfield, a return for the World Cup-winner with France to his home city, returning to Paris would be a radical change from his low-key lifestyle in Manchester and opposition from PSG fans would add another layer of complexity.

PSG would be one of a clutch of clubs in the world who could afford the £290,000 a week United pay Pogba following his record-breaking £89million transfer from Juventus five years ago.

Meanwhile, Manchester United are hoping to formally complete the £42.7 million signing of Raphael Varane by next Wednesday. The France defender was due to travel to Manchester on Thursday after finally being granted a visa under the new Brexit regulations.

It is expected that Varane will have to quarantine for five days with a view to then undergoing a medical at United’s Carrington training base and putting the finishing touches to the transfer from Real Madrid, subject to him recording a negative coronavirus test. United are paying an initial £34.2m for the centre-back.

Solskjaer, will hope to have Varane available in some capacity for the clash against Leeds but given 28-year-old's lack of training time and with Eric Bailly having been competing in the Olympics with Ivory Coast this month, it seems likely that Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will start in central defence against Leeds provided the pair are fit.

Axel Tuanzebe is expected to leave on loan, possibly for Aston Villa, and United are slowly easing back Phil Jones, who has not played a first-team game for over 18 months.

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