Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said that Paul Pogba’s lacklustre performances for struggling Manchester United are a result of the player not being fully fit, while also doubting his side’s ability to win titles.
The midfielder has played only twice since August and missed United’s loss to Newcastle on Sunday as well as their drab 0-0 draw against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League last week, owing to a recurring ankle injury.
They sit just two points above the relegation zone, in 12th place, in the Premier League and have a trip to table-topping Liverpool to look forward to after the international break.
Paul Pogba has appeared five times in the Premier League this season, failing to score
Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger puts Pogba’s poor showings down to mentality and fitness
Speaking to beIN Sports, Wenger – who managed the Gunners for 22 years – said that the French World Cup winner hasn’t been in peak condition since the season kicked off.
‘First of all, I think Paul Pogba since the start of the season has never been completely fit, injury wise,’ said Wenger.
‘He doesn’t look completely confident physically and he’s the type of player who has a huge physical power. He needs to be perfectly fit physically.’
He added: ‘After that, when a player wants to leave and you stop him from leaving, you know you go through a process of rebuilding the relationship that the first thing that suffers is the performances.
United’s Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe look dejected after the game
PAUL POGBA’S SEASON IN NUMBERS
N/A (ankle injury)
‘I personally think he behaves as well like he knows that Man United at the moment is not the team to compete for the championship.
‘And, plus the fact that he was stopped from going away, it looks like the two together a bit tarnish his performances.’
Pogba, 26, publicly stated towards the end of last season that he was interested in a move away from Old Trafford.
The star has appeared five times for United in the Premier League this season, failing to score and winning just once.
He also played in his side’s dire penalty shootout win against League One Rochdale, failing to make much of an impact as United trudged to a win against the minnows.
He has two years left on his current deal and United have an option to sign him for a further year, but reports suggest the midfielder is ‘desperate’ to leave the Red Devils.
According to the Sun, there is no chance of Pogba signing a new contract at Old Trafford and will try to engineer a January move – with Real Madrid his preferred destination.