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Solskjaer confident Pogba will still be at United for season start

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expecting to name Paul Pogba in the line-up for the first game of the new Premier League campaign against Chelsea next weekend, despite the Frenchman’s overtures to leave the club in the close season.  

Pogba said in June that he could seek a new challenge after three years at United, while his agent told The Times last month that the 26-year-old intends to leave the club amid reports linking him to Juventus and Real Madrid.

However, with a transfer having not materialised the midfielder, who joined United from Juventus in 2016 for a then-world record fee of 89.3 million pounds, could be around Old Trafford for a little while longer.

“Paul will probably be back early next week in training. It’s not an injury, just some pain. He’s not injured but I wasn’t going to risk anything this weekend,” Solskjaer told a news conference after his side’s penalty shootout win over AC Milan in Cardiff.

“He should be okay (for Chelsea). I would hope so, anyway. I wasn’t expecting Paul (at the airport). I spoke to him after training and he didn’t feel right.”

Pogba has endured a turbulent time at United, notably falling out with Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho.

However, he may be convinced by the ambition shown by the club to improve on a disappointing sixth place finish in the Premier League last season, 32 points behind champions Manchester City.

Following the acquisitions of full back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace and young winger Daniel James from Swansea City, United are close to sealing a record 80-million pound deal for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire.

“Hopefully, the last little details will be in place and we can announce something very soon,” the Norwegian coach said of the England centre back.

“Let’s get the details over the line but he’s played a few games over the summer so we’ll just have to assess him, if and when (he is available for the Chelsea match).”

Solskjaer also said that Ashley Young would be the new club captain, taking over from Antonio Valencia who left after 10 years in Manchester to join LDU Quito in his native Ecuador last month.

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Solskjaer hails Pogba´s leadership and focus ahead of Liverpool clash

Paul Pogba’s leadership and focus has earned praise from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is pleased the flamboyant Manchester United star has not left himself open to criticism.

Pogba is flying high ahead of Sunday’s Premier League showdown against rivals Liverpool, with nine goals and six assists in all competitions since caretaker manager Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December.

The French World Cup winner’s form is in stark contrast to his performances prior to Mourinho’s sacking – Pogba’s focus and social media activity questioned by the Portuguese boss and pundits.

Pogba, who was an unused substitute in the 3-1 loss to Liverpool at Anfield in December, has also been known for his flashy haircuts.

But the 25-year-old midfielder has appeared a lot more grounded under Solskjaer, much to the Norwegian’s delight with Liverpool set to visit Old Trafford.

“Paul has always been a larger-than-life character. He has a fantastic family but you don’t do yourself any favours at times with stuff like that,” said Solskjaer.

“You don’t want to give anyone an excuse really so, of course, you don’t go to the Brit Awards this week. We know leading up to our last game against Liverpool there were stories about players not being focused.

“It is not about that. We know they are focused, we know they are doing their best and that is just Paul being Paul. But he does help himself by toning it down a bit.

“Maybe he does not have the energy to do it now. Who knows? But I have not said anything to him about it. I have talked to the whole team about expectations and the standards we have and what I expect from them.

“Paul is a leader in training, he is a leader in the dressing room. Players are allowed to be themselves and that’s my job as well – to allow that. He spends a lot of energy being a leader on and off the pitch. If you want the nice car, different haircut, that’s no problem.

“I can’t do anything about my grey hair! But you are allowed to have different hair, it is not a problem to have whatever haircut you want. It has never been a problem with Paul. I remember when he was 16 he wanted to feel good. If you feel good you will play well.”

Solskjaer added: “I am a bit older than them and don’t understand all this social media, even though I posted a picture of Rashy’s shirt over my television when he scored against Liverpool last time at Old Trafford! That maybe was one of my five or six tweets ever!

“And you would be surprised by the number of minutes he’s played this season. Apart from David de Gea and maybe Nemanja Matic he has played the most minutes for us in the league even though there was a perception that Jose left him out all the time.”