Ralf Rangnick says Paul Pogba may be motivated by impressing his suitors

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<span>Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ralf Rangnick has made stark admissions about two of Manchester United’s most expensive signings, saying Paul Pogba may be motivated to perform only because he wants to leave and that Jadon Sancho is struggling to deal with the “psychological” pressure of playing for the club.

Pogba’s £89.3m fee makes him United’s record transfer and Sancho’s £73m price ranks him as the third-highest. The former’s contract expires in summer and he is yet to agree a fresh deal.

Pogba is back in training after injury and is expected, by Rangnick, to be available early next month. The interim manager was asked whether there was any point selecting him given the 28-year-old could depart in the close season.

Related: Anthony Martial’s departure hinges on Manchester United paying part of salary

“Yes, of course,” he said. “I also played Nemanja Matic in the last games and his contract is also expiring [in June 2023]. My contract as a manager is also expiring in the summer. For us we have the same goal. We have the same ambition to be as successful as we can possibly be in the next three or four months.

“It’s not a question if a player has an expiring contract, the question is how much does he still want to be a part of this group, how much does he still feel emotionally and physically on board.

“As long as this is the case, why shouldn’t Paul Pogba now, after two and half months of injury, fully fit again, and he wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world what kind of player he can be? Even if it’s only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that and why should I then not play him?

“But there is a difference in how players deal with their current situation. If they handle that in a professional way, an ambitious way, I will play players although they have a contract expiring in the summer.”

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Sancho joined from Borussia Dortmund in July but has struggled, scoring twice in 23 appearances, including 14 starts, and making no assists. Rangnick was asked why Sancho’s form has been disappointing.

“There is a difference if you come as an 18 year-old [he was 17 at the time], unknown, talented English boy to Borussia Dortmund,” he said. “From then you can only improve, make a success out of that.

“The level of expectation was a lot lower compared to the situation where you come at the age of 23 [he is now 21] – you come to a club like Manchester United for a high transfer fee, with a high level of expectation.

“Everyone expected from him that he would be one of the best players in the team. This is psychologically, emotionally, a more challenging situation than the one at Borussia Dortmund and these are exactly the kind of steps that he has to make to become a top player for the next 10 years at this club.

“We can give guidelines, give him all the necessary assistance that he needs but in the end it’s up to him to take the next steps. It’s not only about training at the highest possible level. I said that to him the day before yesterday [Sunday] ‘Confirm the performances you show in training when you’re playing on the pitch.’

“It’s got to do with a lot of the things up here in his head. With those kinds of players, with creative offensive players it’s all about confidence, being aware of how good they can be then showing it in front of 75,000.”

Rangnick is hopeful Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford will be available after injury for Wednesday’s trip to Brentford.

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