Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told Paul Pogba and any other wantaway players that Manchester United will not be pressured into selling.
After such a dreadful end to the season, the summer break has been played out to a background of fan disillusionment and questions over the future of the club’s biggest names.
David De Gea, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have all been the subject of speculation, but it is club-record signing Pogba that has dominated the agenda after publicly declaring he was ready for “a new challenge somewhere else”.
Agent Mino Raiola has compounded matters by reaffirming his client’s desire to leave Old Trafford for a second time, saying he was “in the process” of arranging a move for the man United made the most expensive player in history in 2016.
Solskjaer refrained from criticising Pogba when he faced the media for the first time since ending the season-ending 2-0 home loss to relegated Cardiff, but the manager was clear that United would not be bullied into selling anyone.
“There has been loads of talk and speculation, of course, about all our players or many of our players, both ins and outs,” he said at the WACA in Perth.
“For me, it’s business as usual. When you’re Man United, you expect all these things to pop up in the summer.
“And of course I’ve been in touch with Paul, spoken to Paul. Spoken to Rom, spoken to Rashy [Marcus Rashford], Jesse (Lingard) – I’ve spoken to all the players, more or less, over the summer. As you do, you keep in touch with them.
“As far as I am aware and up to now, we don’t have any bids for any of our players.
“We are Man United – we don’t have to sell players. But what I have to say, though, is about some of the players.
“Paul, for example, it looks like it is going to be, or it’s a media… I don’t want to call it… but it’s an agenda against Paul.
“He’s a top, top bloke. He’s a great, great professional. He’s never been any problems. He has got a heart of goal.”
Put to Solskjaer that there was no agenda against Pogba and that the media was merely reporting his comments, he said: “Well, I am here to talk about the whole team and the pre-season and the season coming.
“What I will say is Paul’s never put himself out of the team. He has always wanted to play. He has always given his best and I can’t report anything but that.
“Agents talk all the time and, as I said, we’ve not had any bids for any clubs. That’s all I can say about this matter.”
He's a top, top bloke. He's a great, great professional. He's never been any problems. He has got a heart of goalSolskjaer on Pogba
But the questions about Pogba continued in Solskjaer’s first media appearance in 62 days, with the manager saying the midfielder has “never been a concern” as he exuded the calmness that PA understands is reflected behind the scenes.
There have been no negotiations or offers to sell the midfielder, with the club understood to be focused on hitting the ground running with the France midfielder still part of the squad at the start of the 2019-20 season.
Pogba is not the only high-profile player eyeing an exit, though, with striker Romelu Lukaku understood to be welcoming interest from Inter Milan.
“Well, as long as they’re here, they’re professionals, they’re working, giving everything they’ve got, agents and everyone else can talk,” Solskjaer said when asked about players that would be keen to leave.
“And we’ve got our own talks behind the scenes and I am not going to tell you what we’ve been talking about.”
Some players will leave before the summer is out but Solskjaer has yet to show the ruthless edge he promised after United tailed off so dramatically towards the end of the season.
“I can see your point but doing business in the football market is not going to be a quick fix overnight,” he said as United continued their bid to bring in new faces.
“We have got players here who I trust. They’re fantastic players, there’s loads of players here that I know are going to be successful at this club.
“And we’ve signed two, Dan (James) and Aaron (Wan-Bissaka) – fantastic, with the speed, with the hunger, with quality that will be part of that.”