Manchester United’s treble-winning goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has described Paul Pogba as the club’s “problem child” and says the Frenchman is unpopular with the supporters.
The 26-year-old joined United for a then-world-record fee from Juventus in 2016, but has helped to add only the League Cup and Europa League to the club’s trophy cabinet during the last three years.
After watching Pogba play for 90 minutes in United’s 1-1 home draw against Arsenal on Monday, Schmeichel told Australian broadcaster Optus Sport: “The way the ball is being moved around when Pogba is in the team, is different to the pace the ball is being moved around when he’s not in the team, and that is something they need to work on.
“In the first 25 minutes [he was] just basically playing the ball backwards and, for a player of his calibre, that’s disappointing.
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“It kind of feels like he is the problem child in this team. I’m not saying he’s doing everything wrong, I’m more confused what his job is. What is it that he’s going to do for this team?”
Pogba topped the charts for goals and assists at United last season, but endured a frosty relationship with previous manager Jose Mourinho and has attracted criticism from pundits such as Gary Neville.
The midfielder’s relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to be stronger than with the Norwegian’s predecessor, but Schmeichel says he is struggling to win over the fans.
He said: “[The] 75,000 people here, they’re not really too happy about him.
“You kind of hear that around, people don’t like Pogba that much because he doesn’t do that much for the team.”
“Ole will not want to cut his losses with Pogba over the next six to eight months. If a player continually expresses his desire – either personally, or through his agent – to not be at the club, what do you do?
“I get it that you cannot sell him until you replace him, but he is a manager who is in a situation who – what do you do, keep players that do not want to be here and then become a bit of a problem in the dressing room potentially through that negativity spreading?
“The same is going to happen with Paul over the next six months (as with Alexis Sanchez) where a decision has to be made and he either commits his long-term future and stays at the club and dominates games.
“Or they just have to say: ‘Look, you are a better player than we already have got, but if you do not want to be here and it is affecting the rest of the team, we have to basically let you go.'”