With Paul Pogba approaching the final year of his Manchester United contract and talks yet to begin over a potential new deal, it seems likely a decision could be made on his future this summer.
The infamous Mino Raiola is Pogba’s representative, and in an interview in December the 'super agent' made it clear he was attempting to facilitate an exit from Old Trafford for the Frenchman.
Pogba didn’t deny those comments and his silence was deafening.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer responded, moving to extinguish the fire Raiola had lit as cited by Sports Central: "I think everyone in the team and Paul included are just focused on doing as well as we can this season. "I don't think any energy would be used on the speculation,” he added. But with Pogba’s current deal expiring in the summer of 2022, speculation is inevitable, and it still seems likely United will look to sell the World Cup winner to prevent him leaving for free.
Pogba became the world’s most expensive player when sealing his return to United from Juventus in 2016 for £89m, although the Reds will struggle to recoup that fee in the current market if negotiating his departure in the summer window.
The pandemic will have lasting consequences in all areas of life, and football will not escape those implications, with the financial impact on clubs around the world now becoming apparent.
It could be argued that it was only a matter of time before the millions thrown around in the modern game ground to a halt, but the pandemic has accelerated this, with clubs now recovering from the loss of matchday turnstile revenue among other factors.
So, where does this leave United and Pogba? Only a few clubs will be able to accommodate a move for the 28-year-old, and it has been suggested this season that either Juventus and Real Madrid could be his next destination.
However, even if those clubs could meet his hefty wage demands in the current economic climate, it seems highly probable they would be reluctant to pay an excessive fee for a player with just one year left on his contract.
While United might accept Pogba's heart is set elsewhere and accept such a deal, they have a wildcard option they could use instead.
It might not be completely ludicrous to allow Pogba to run out his contract at United, especially when considering his excellent contribution this campaign quite simply, Solskjaer's men are a significantly stronger team when Pogba is on the pitch.
If Pogba remains at Old Trafford for another season and United recruit well in the transfer window, mounting a serious title charge will be more than feasible next term. But if he does depart this summer, their progress could be undermined and stall.
Arsene Wenger said four years ago: “In the future, you will see that more and more, players going to the end of a contract. "Why? Because transfer [fees] become so high, even for normal players. “No one will want to pay the amount of money that is demanded. The performance on the day does not depend on the length of the contract.” The former Arsenal manager's prediction seems to be coming true and it's something for United to consider with their Pogba conundrum.
Is cashing in on the £50m fee more important than having a realistic chance of pursuing Premier League glory for the first time in eight years?
That's a question for Solskjaer, John Murtough, Darren Fletcher and Ed Woodward to answer..