Midfield reinforcements on their way but Manchester United won't let Paul Pogba leave

Aditya Devavrat 22:01 22/04/2019
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Paul Pogba's future is up in the air.

With Manchester United set for a second straight season without silverware, all signs point to a big summer overhaul from newly-installed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian has spoken of the investment it will take to rebuild the squad so that it bridges the gap to clubs like Barcelona, who dumped United out of the Champions League last week.

While part of the rebuild will involve bringing in new players, Solskjaer and the rest of the club hierarchy will need to make cold, ruthless decisions about the ones already at the club.

Here, we look at how likely the current midfielders at United are to remain at Old Trafford beyond this summer. Check out our analysis of the club’s goalkeepers, defenders, and strikers as well.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba is the player Solskjaer wants to build his team around. For all the talk that the Frenchman is inconsistent, fails to turn up in big games and relies too much on having exactly the right personnel around him in order to be at his best, there’s no doubting the 26-year-old’s talent.

He’s managed 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions this campaign, the best season of his career to date, and should – under the right conditions – get better.

The complication with Pogba is that he’s flirting with an exit all on his own, with recent comments about linking up with Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid raising eyebrows. As fine a player as he is, his ego and attitude can also be distracting and has the potential to derail the re-build Solskjaer is trying to assemble.

He enters next season with just two years left on his current contract, which means he holds the cards in renewal negotiations, and he could force a move if he wanted to. But selling the World Cup-winner a second time might also be a viable option for the club. He has plenty of suitors and if United were to be offered a sum in the region of £120 million plus, they would have a conundrum to figure out.

But the overriding feeling must still be to keep hold of him for now.  United would prefer to keep him this summer, but will Madrid test their resolve?

Likelihood of staying: 8/10

Fred

It’s never easy for a midfielder to come into the Premier League and instantly settle in, and Fred has no doubt experienced some growing pains during his first season at United. But the £50million man has started to come into his own over the last month, despite his grim showing against Everton, and there is faith at the club that he can find his feet.

United are said to be looking for a new central midfielder in any case, but that’s because they’re thin on proven quality at the position with the likely departure of Ander Herrera and the declining form of Nemanja Matic. Fred will get the chance to kick on in his second season and establish himself as an important member of the squad, regardless of who is brought in.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay has been one of United’s most impressive players this year, proving Jose Mourinho right after being singled out for praise last season. The young Scot starred against Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – not many can say that.

There are question marks over just how good McTominay can be, whether he’s a limited player who will make up for that with graft, commitment, and desire, or whether he genuinely has the talent to be come a top-tier player. His athleticism and physique have seen him thrive this year and he has coped ably when tasked with marshalling opponents’ key players and breaking up attacks.

Regardless, at 22 McTominay has a bright future ahead of him, and United will keep him on for a while as they look to discover exactly what sort of player they have on their hands.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Ander Herrera

United fans have always been split on Ander Herrera, but even more so since rumours of a deal with PSG emerged. The Spaniard’s passion for the club and committed displays have made him a fan favourite, but with his wage demands reportedly rising to £200,000 per week – which PSG are apparently willing to meet – neither the club nor its fans are sure if the 29-year-old is worth the outlay.

It’s a shame, because despite the idea that he is “leaving for money” Herrera truly loves the club and its fans, and he has been earmarked as a potential captain. United will find better players than him in the market but few have the Roy Keane-esque spirit and bite he brings in midfield, in addition to his good vision and impressive passing range.

As a defensive midfielder with the ability to launch attacks he brings genuine quality that at times get overlooked. But unless there’s a surprising U-turn from either player or club, he’s not going to be a United player much longer.

Likelihood of staying: 3/10

Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic’s lack of mobility is becoming increasingly glaring, and though he had a mini-resurgence after Solskjaer’s arrival there is now a clear sense that the Serbian could be in a state of permanent decline.

He still brings title-winning experience to the club and is a player constantly able to be called upon for the big games, but it’s more likely that Matic is reduced to fourth or even fifth-choice midfielder next season, someone trotted out for cup games or when the first-choice players need a rest. The 30-year-old may accept that role, or both club and player could decide it’s time for Matic to move on.

Likelihood of staying: 5/10

Andreas Pereira

Despite showing glimpses of his talent Andreas Pereira has never been able to nail down a spot in his manager’s first-choice XI. Is he more of a defensive midfielder who can keep possession, or a wide, attacking player?

Mourinho was playing him out of position as a holding midfielder, to be fair, but even Solskjaer, who knows the Brazil international from his days as United’s reserve team manager, hasn’t quite been impressed enough to give Pereira a run of games.

The club triggered a one-year extension on Pereira’s contract last month, but that was likely only to ensure the 23-year-old cannot leave on a free this summer rather than a vote of confidence in his abilities. If a suitor comes calling, United will likely let him leave.

Likelihood of staying: 4/10

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