Man Utd: Solskjaer admits to 'baby steps' in title push
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Manchester United have announced that Eric Bailly has signed a new three-year contract extension – but uncertainty reigns over Paul Pogba’s future. Many had expected Bailly to leave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the summer transfer window as his previous deal was set to expire in 2022 – when Pogba’s contract is also due to run out.
Bailly has committed to United until 2024, while the club have the option of a further year – meaning he could spend another four years at Old Trafford.
The centre-back’s new deal is a show of faith from the Red Devils, with Bailly having played just 15 times for Solskjaer’s side this season after enduring a series of injuries since he arrived in 2016.
The announcement on Bailly’s future has surprised many United fans, with Victor Lindelof having established himself as the first-choice defensive partner for Harry Maguire this season, while the manager has been expected to target a centre-half signing in the summer transfer window.
But the news also raises questions over why there have been no developments as yet over Pogba’s future.
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Pogba has of course long been linked with a transfer away from the Premier League giants, with Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus among the clubs believed to be possible destinations.
His agent Mino Raiola sent shockwaves around Old Trafford earlier this season when he made the bombshell claim that Pogba saw his future elsewhere and that a move would be the best solution for all parties.
But Solskjaer’s response to Raiola’s intervention was to find a new role for the World Cup winner, and Pogba has produced some of his best performances this season on the left of United’s attack.
That has had a knock-on effect, with Marcus Rashford sometimes moved from his favoured side over to the Red Devils’ right flank to accommodate Pogba.
But the club’s £89million record signing had seemed more settled – especially as United’s fortunes on the pitch have improved, with Solskjaer second in the Premier League and into the Europa League semi-finals.
So the question has to be asked, if injury-prone Bailly has had his future resolved, why has the same not been done with Pogba?
The midfielder has reportedly asked for an eye-watering £500,000 per week in order to extend his stay.
And it could be that the club are ready to cash in this summer, keen to learn from past mistakes when they paid over the odds for a series of big-name players.
But letting Pogba leave carries a risk, as highlighted by reports last week that Bruno Fernandes is prepared to commit his long-term future to the Red Devils – but only if his team-mate does the same.
Fernandes sees Pogba as an integral part of the side and believes that his continued involvement will be crucial in helping United to return to the top of the Premier League in the near future, according to The Sun.
The Portuguese playmaker is under contract until 2025 but has been tipped to agree fresh terms after establishing himself as arguably United’s best player since joining from Sporting Lisbon in January of last year.
The club reportedly offered Fernandes a new deal worth around £200,000 per week in March, but he was said to be keen on waiting until the summer months in order to judge his side’s transfer ambitions.
With speculation linking United to the likes of Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Raphael Varane this summer, it could be a big transfer window for the 20-times Premier League champions in more ways than one.
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