Ralf Rangnick has opened up on Paul Pogba’s future at Manchester United, as well as revealing which position he sees the midfielder playing in.
While the German has largely been brought in to address the miserable slump on the pitch, he may also have to contend with the mounting uncertainty over a number of first-team players at the club, including the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and, of course, Pogba.
The Frenchman – who is currently sidelined with injury – continues to be at the centre of speculation with just six months remaining on his existing deal, opening up the possibility that he could depart Old Trafford for nothing in the summer for the second time in his career.
The 28-year-old has reportedly been offered a new contract extension to remain at the club, although it would appear he is keeping his options open at present, amid rumoured interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and former club, Juventus.
As has been the case throughout both Jose Mourinho’s and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the club, new boss Rangnick is likely to have to face frequent questions regarding the World Cup winner, particularly as the January transfer window approaches on the horizon.
Some of Pogba’s better performances under Solskjaer came deployed on the left-wing as opposed to his regular central midfield berth, though speaking ahead of United’s trip to Norwich, Rangick said he sees the Frenchman operating back in midfield.
“I am very much looking forward to working with him as I am with any of the other players, as far as I know,” said the German. “I need to get to know him to better understand his best possible position. I also need to speak with him and also it’s about him being fully physically fit.
“When we played against Palace, that is the way we want to build on and play like for the next couple of games, including tomorrow’s game. It’s intense, high intensity, positional movements we need to be forwards and backwards and to be forward thinking within the game. We also saw that style against Young Boys, the first half-hour was okay, maybe not that good, but then we were struggling in the second half.
🗣 "I spoke over the phone, he was still in Dubai. He is expected to come back today and then we'll get to know each other in person."
Ralf Rangnick is yet to meet Paul Pogba since arriving after the player suffered an injury on international duty pic.twitter.com/hv87WGVNzA
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 10, 2021
“Once again I want to say thank you to the fans, they backed the team for the whole 90 minutes. Although it was very much an experimental team, we knew that from the beginning, but the fans reacted and they were amazing, outstanding in fact. They supported the players and once again this is something that we have to thank our supporters for.
“Coming back to Paul, yes, it will take some time as I said to get fully fit, he will get that time to get fully fit and once he is fully fit we will see. What I’ve seen from him so far, I see him as a midfielder rather than a striker or a left winger, but again, once I get to know him once he’s fully fit, we can assess which position will be the best for him.”
Throughout the last five-and-a-half years since his return to England, Pogba has seemingly struggled to maintain a consistent run of form, albeit with his new boss more concerned with getting him fit and up to scratch upon his return to action.
“To be honest I can’t answer that question because I don’t know exactly what or where he’s exactly being asked to play. If he plays for the French national team, the only thing that is of interest to me is how do we get him fully fit. If he is fully fit, in which position can he play for us. Those are the only questions that are of interest to me.
“Again, now he is still injured, once he is back in training or even up to the level of fully playing, as he probably won’t be for the next three months, nobody can expect of him after one or two training weeks to be fully fit for our style of football.”
Amid the uncertainty over the player’s future, the 63-year-old also insisted he won’t try to convince the player to stay.
“I wouldn’t say not worth keeping but of course, players have to want to play and stay at the club. Also for a big club like Manchester United, if a player does not want to play for a club like this in the long term, I don’t think it makes sense to change his mind.
“This is such a massive club, with fantastic support from the supporters, I don’t think that anyone in the club would ever need convincing to stay here. But on the other hand let’s wait and see, I have spoken with him for 15 minutes over the phone and my feeling is let’s get him back, training with the team, getting him fit and then we will see where we stand. He can be an important player, but I am fully aware of all the other players we have here,
“I am also a coach of all the other players too. My ambition is of course to make them better and that includes each and every player. This is then only possible by improving the whole performance of the team. It is impossible to develop every single player without the team being successful and also developing the team in a sustainable way.“