Jose Mourinho says he could not be happier with Paul Pogba, and doesn’t care about the player’s claim that he will be fined if he discusses his situation at Manchester United.
Pogba wants to leave for Barcelona after his agent Mino Raiola agreed personal terms with the Spanish club worth £89.5million over five years.
United are determined to keep their record signing, whose relationship with Mourinho has come under huge strain in the last 12 months.
Asked about Pogba’s comment after the Premier League clash with Leicester that “there are things I cannot say otherwise I will get fined”, Mourinho tried to defuse the situation yesterday.
“I don’t care,” he said. “You have to ask Paul. I have been here for two years and a couple of months, and the only player that was fined was Anthony Martial, so it’s not easy to be fined here.
“You have to ask him. I’m not going to ask him. I want him to work the way he is doing and to play the way he is doing. For me, that’s all that matters.”
It is understood that Martial has been fined in the region of £180 000, the equivalent of two weeks’ wages, for going AWOL during United’s tour of the US last month to attend the birth of his son in Paris.
Pogba further alluded to his problems at United in a tweet after he captained the team and scored against Leicester last week, writing: “I’ll always give my best for the fans and my teammates, no matter what’s going on.”
Mourinho responded to that tweet by saying: “When he says he did it for the fans and for the team, that is exactly what I want and exactly what I demand from my players. He’s working well and playing well. I couldn’t be happier than I am.”
The United manager handled the inevitable Pogba questions at Carrington yesterday with delicacy and diplomacy.
He said that he was happy with the 25-year-old, who played 84 minutes against Leicester having trained for only three days since winning the World Cup, and denied reports of an angry bust-up between them this week over Pogba’s post-match comments.
“He never had a fight with me,” said Mourinho. “We never had a heated or hard exchange of words. Everything is respected. I have no problems at all.
“Please don’t put him in a situation where people can think he’s not a polite, educated guy, which he is.
“The truth is, we are together for two years and a couple of weeks, and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now. I cannot ask for more from him.
“He came here on Monday and trained three days. I asked for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties. He did it better and for more time than we could expect.”
Pogba captains United again at Brighton on Sunday, but Mourinho confirmed that the armband will revert to Antonio Valencia when he returns from injury.
Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard are back in training, but unlikely to make the trip to the South Coast.
Romelu Lukaku, who came off the bench last week, is likely to lead the line tomorrow.
“He (Pogba) has conditions to be captain in the future. He was the captain and he will be again,” said Mourinho. “But when Antonio comes back, he will be captain.”
Right back Matteo Darmian is set to stay at the club after proving his worth during Valencia’s absence, and failing to agree a move back to Italy before their transfer window shut last night.