MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has moved to hose down speculation that Paul Pogba is unhappy and set to leave the club, declaring the media have an “agenda” against the French World Cup winner.
Pogba’s agent recently told The Times that the troubled 26-year-old intends to leave United, while the player, himself, said in Tokyo last month that he thought it might be time for a “new challenge somewhere else”.
Serie A club Juventus and La Liga giants Real Madrid have been linked with Pogba, and the speculation has followed United to Australia on their pre-season tour ahead of a match against A-League side Perth Glory on Saturday.
Pogba has two years left on his contract, with the option for a third, however, and Solskjaer hit out at media for indulging in the transfer talk.
“Agents talk all the time. As I said, we’ve not had any bids from any clubs,” he told reporters in Perth on Wednesday.
“That’s all I can say about this matter.
“There is an agenda against Paul, he’s a top, top bloke. A great professional, there’s never been any problems and he’s got a heart of gold.”
Pogba, who moved to Old Trafford from Juventus for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3 million in August 2016, was named in last season’s PFA Premier League Team of the Year and has scored 31 goals in 142 appearances in all competitions.
But he has frustrated fans with his inconsistency, and a series of low-key performances last season culminated in clashes with angry supporters in the final-day home defeat by relegated Cardiff.
Manchester United posted a video of the team taking a stroll through Perth on its social media accounts earlier in the week but the upbeat soundtrack of electronic music could not disguise what appeared to be a heated exchange between Pogba and team mate Jesse Lingard.
Grinning defender Victor Lindelof came between the pair and threw an arm around Pogba as they continued walking but the moment sparked speculation of a rift in the camp.
Solskjaer said there was nothing in it.
“For example, Jesse and Paul walking around and it’s been portrayed as a fight between the two boys,” he said.
“I know you’re here to sell papers and sell stories but that’s nothing, no problems between the boys at all. They’re all professional. Pre-season has been very, very good so far.”
United kick off their new league campaign against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Aug. 11.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)