Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba

Earlier in the summer, Paul Pogba gave the strongest of hints that he wants a new challenge, with Real Madrid and Juventus apparently ready to pounce. However, this is a transfer saga that looks set to drag on, as mystery surrounds the future of the World Cup winner.

Despite initial fears that he wouldn’t join the rest of the Manchester United squad for their Asian tour, Pogba turned up alongside his colleagues as the team departed for the first leg in Australia. Seemingly oblivious to the rumours and speculation, the Frenchman now appears to be working hard and performing well in pre-season matches.

Since letting slip that he is looking for a new challenge, Pogba has remained tight-lipped. Meanwhile, amidst the transfer gossip and speculation, Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have made their respective stances perfectly clear. The club won’t consider bids of less than €200 million, and the Norwegian wants to rebuild his squad around the 26-year-old.

As journalists and betting experts prepare their football predictions ahead of the 2019-20 season, expectations for the Red Devils will depend greatly on their activity in the transfer market. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are excellent additions, although more spending is required if United are to seriously challenge for silverware.

Solskjaer firmly believes he can convince Pogba to stay at Old Trafford. He insists that “a new challenge” for the player will be to lead a team that is built around him. Whether that’s enough to convince the French midfielder, remains to be seen. Since his previous comments were taken as a desire to leave the club, Pogba has remained tight-lipped about his future.

Juventus have been consistently linked with ambitions of luring Pogba back to Turin, yet the valuation set by Manchester United appears out of their reach. While they splashed out €100 million to sign Cristiano Ronaldo last year, the Italian club has already invested heavily this summer to sign Matthijs de Ligt this summer, amongst other additions.

This would seem to place Real Madrid as favourites to make an official bid for Pogba, given that head coach Zinedine Zidane is a keen admirer. Likewise, the Spanish giants have returned to their ‘Galactico’ policy of big-money signings. Spending at the Santiago Bernabéu has already exceeded €300 million this summer, including the €100 million spent on Eden Hazard.

Tipped to offload both Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez ahead of the new season, Real Madrid have no financial constraints that would prevent them from making a bid for Pogba. That said, club president Florentino Perez won’t pay over the odds, no matter how much Zidane would like to have the player in his side.

As such, the clock is ticking. Manchester United have set their valuation and a deadline for any deal to be concluded. Unless an official bid is made before the 8th August transfer deadline in England, the player will remain at the club. Real Madrid are now playing a waiting game, hoping that United will be more flexible with negotiations, as the deadline draws ever closer.