LONDON - Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United for Barcelona even if his fractured relationship with manager Jose Mourinho can be mended. United insist the club’s £89million record signing will not be sold but Pogba has set his heart on a move to Spain.
Mourinho tried to placate the midfielder by making him captain for United’s first game of the season against Leicester. However, their relationship hit a new low when Pogba said after the match that he could not discuss the situation without being fined.
Sportsmail understands that Pogba’s desire to play for Barcelona is the main reason for his wish to leave, and the fall-out with Mourinho is now a secondary issue. It is believed the Frenchman, who has not demanded a pay rise, would have loved a move to Spain when he left Juventus two years ago.
However, his agent Mino Raiola was unable to tempt Barcelona or Real Madrid, then United made a world-record offer. Pogba, 25, who originally left Sir Alex Ferguson’s United for Juve in 2012, has told Old Trafford executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his teammates that he wants to go again.
Raiola has agreed personal terms with Barca worth £89.5m over five years, but United have already rejected one bid from the Catalans and are determined to resist until the transfer window shuts in Spain at the end of the month.
Pogba is prepared to wait until January or next summer, but meanwhile his relationship with Mourinho will come under more scrutiny amid fears it has reached breaking point. Mourinho is said to have been angered and surprised by Pogba’s comments after the 2-1 win over Leicester.
Asked about his situation, Pogba said: "There are things I can’t say, otherwise I will get fined. You have to know one thing. A player that gets chosen and is happy, you always feel more comfortable than when he’s not happy. That’s all I’ll say."
Mourinho is set to address Pogba’s comments with the media tomorrow but must now decide whether to let him keep the captain’s armband for Sunday’s trip to Brighton. It is the latest problem between two men who have grown increasingly distant in the last year.
Relations began to turn sour in September when Pogba suffered a torn hamstring in a Champions League game against Basle and spent more than two months out of action. Mourinho was furious that Pogba had allegedly ignored advice from medical staff over the problem and instead hired a personal trainer to try to resolve it. United’s manager is said to have berated Pogba during a heated 20-minute meeting in his office.
Tensions between the two deepened over the remainder of the season and there was another frank exchange at Carrington lasting more than an hour in February after Pogba was substituted at Newcastle and Tottenham, then dropped to the bench against Huddersfield. It came to a head when he was left out of the line-up for both legs of the Champions League last-16 defeat by Sevilla.
Pogba was then unimpressed by Mourinho’s underwhelmed response to his role in France’s World Cup success in Russia this summer — notably the comment: "I don’t think it’s about us getting the best out of him, it’s about him giving the best he has to give." Even if the two can resolve their differences, it is unlikely to alter Pogba’s determination to leave Old Trafford for a second time.