Real Madrid: Pogba seeks to force through Bernabéu move
Despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisting Paul Pogba missed Man Utd's clash with AC Milan with a "back spasm", it seems his absence was not injury-related.
Yesterday brought the latest chapter in the Paul Pogba saga, which Zinedine Zidane hopes will end up with the midfielder pulling on the white shirt of Real Madrid.
On Friday, it was confirmed that Pogba would not be travelling to Cardiff for Manchester United's International Champions Cup match against AC Milan, with the Premier League club's manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, seeking to dispel speculation over the France international's absence by telling reporters that the player had been ruled out of the clash by a "back spasm".
The issue had seen Pogba miss United's final training session before their previous fixture, against Norwegians Kristiansund on Tuesday, with the player then restricted to a 30-minute substitute appearance in the 1-0 victory in Oslo.
Pogba reported to have staged United no-show
However, reports in the UK yesterday claimed that the back injury had nothing to do with Pogba's absence from the match-up with Milan, which United won 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in Wales. According to the Daily Mail, the 26-year-old had in fact staged a no-show as he seeks to force through his switch to the Bernabéu.
So far, Madrid's attempts to prise Pogba from Old Trafford have been fruitless: after twice coming up against United's flat-out refusal to discuss a sale, Los Blancos were then reportedly quoted a price of 170 million euros - a fee they are unwilling to countenance. Madrid chiefs are keen to deliver the one signing that Zidane has expressly asked for, but not at any price.
Madrid eyeing Van de Beek as alternative option
Amid this impasse, Madrid have begun to set their sights on a back-up option in the shape of Ajax's Donny van de Beek - a development that is thought to have caused Pogba to ratchet up the pressure on United, not least because time is running out. The Premier League transfer window closes on Thursday and, although United can still sell after that, their inability to reinvest anything they bank reduces the likelihood that they'll be prepared to do business.
Madrid had told Pogba not to go on strike, as they were doubtful such a move would aid their attempts to get the deal done. By reporting for United's tour of Australia despite having planned not to, he followed the LaLiga giants' advice, and had not been at the centre of any major displays of rebellion - until now, that is...