Football

Manchester United not a selling club: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Red Devils manager Solskjaer accuses media of having an 'agenda' over Pogba reports

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has moved to dampen speculation that Paul Pogba is unhappy and set to leave the club, declaring that the media have an "agenda" against the French World Cup winner.

Pogba's agent recently told The Times that the 26-year-old intends to leave United, while the player himself said in Tokyo last month that he thought it might be time for a "new challenge somewhere else".

Serie A champions Juventus and La Liga giants Real Madrid have been linked with Pogba, and the speculation has followed United to Australia on their pre-season tour, ahead of a friendly against A-League side Perth Glory on Saturday.

Pogba has two years left on his contract, with the option for a third, and Solskjaer hit out at the media for indulging in transfer talk, reported Reuters.

"Agents talk all the time. As I said, we've not had any bids from any clubs," he told reporters in Perth yesterday.

"We are Man United - we don't have to sell players...

"There is an agenda against Paul, he's a top, top bloke.

"A great professional, there's never been any problems and he's got a heart of gold."

Pogba, who moved to Old Trafford from Juventus for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3 million (S$151.6m) in August 2016, was named in last season's PFA Premier League Team of the Year, after scoring 16 goals in all competitions.

But he has frustrated fans with his inconsistency, and a series of low-key performances last term culminated in clashes with angry supporters after the final-day home defeat by relegated Cardiff City.

Former United midfielder Kleberson has advocated selling Pogba, saying: "It is the right move to sell Paul Pogba, he's a great player and his talent is unbelievable...

PLAYING STYLE

"But his style is a little bit different, and not particularly what Man United need.

"Sometimes, it's hard to come to Manchester United and adapt to play a particular style. It doesn't mean he's not a good player with great quality."

The Brazilian had a contrasting take on Lukaku, saying his departure "will be a big loss for Manchester United".

He added: "I'm a big fan of Lukaku, he's a great player...

"If he starts up top, you can play off him and help the midfield and other forwards to score more goals.

"He can also drift out wide and cause problems for defenders there, he killed Brazil in the game at the World Cup from doing this, and he's very unpredictable."

United posted a video of the team taking a stroll through Perth on its social media accounts earlier in the week, but some British tabloids snatched on an apparent exchange between Pogba and teammate Jesse Lingard.

Grinning defender Victor Lindelof came between the pair and threw an arm around Pogba as they continued walking, but the moment sparked speculation of a rift in the camp.

Solskjaer said there was nothing in it. He said: "For example, Jesse and Paul walking around and it's been portrayed as a fight between the two boys.

"I know you're here to sell papers and sell stories but that's nothing, no problems between the boys at all.

"They're all professional. Pre-season has been very, very good so far."

Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, said he and his teammates are trying to right the wrongs of last season, when they finished sixth in the league.

He said: "We've put it behind us and are working harder than ever to put things right this time.

"As individuals and as a team, we all have to take responsibility - if we do that, we've got a good chance to achieve our aims."

Football