Paul Pogba still dreaming big despite uncertain future at Manchester United

French midfielder opens up on club podcast about returning from injury, his family's reaction to leaving Old Trafford in 2012 and how he left, returning four years later

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Few doubt his talent, but Paul Pogba divides opinions among Manchester United fans.

Many hope for a brighter future with the world-class attacking midfielder back in the team where he was the top scorer last season. He could link up with Bruno Fernandes, whose signing has helped revitalise an improving side.

Yet many fans have had enough of Pogba already and will not complain if he leaves, where the money earned could be used on another new signing in a transfer market where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has so far excelled.

Fans see him as an unsettling dressing room influence, someone not committed to getting United back to the top.

It is not that clear cut, though, as Pogba is polite and professional, but his popularity nosedived when Jose Mourinho was sacked and it is low again now.

Pogba speaks to United’s official podcast in an interview to be broadcast on Monday evening. It will be interesting to see if he is asked the simple question: "Do you want to stay at Manchester United?"

That’s an entirely reasonable query, the one United fans want answering after a year in which Pogba has never made his intentions clear and his agent has indicated he wants out – but his manager has patiently backed his injured French World Cup winner in public.

Pogba, 27, has not played since December 26 and said he has been “frustrated for a long time” with a fracture of his ankle. He will resume training when the club return after the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m almost there; I’m just thinking about training with the team,” he said, but had this season not been stopped, fans were waiting to see what happened in the close season, with Real Madrid keen.

Madrid wanted to sign him in 2016 but he chose United, who promised to build a great team around him rather than him being one of several stars at Madrid. Pogba was sold down the river with that dream, with blame on all sides, including for himself.

Pogba has left United before when, in 2012, he moved to Juventus. United wanted to keep him and offered to make him the best paid reserve player at the club on £20,000 [Dh91,400] a week.

Alex Ferguson tried to persuade him to stay and some first-teamers were sent to his house to try to talk him out of leaving.

They felt he was being advised by his agent and that his decision had been made. Former United legend Paddy Crerand also tried to do the same, to no avail.

In mitigation, Ferguson had continually overlooked Pogba, even when his injury hit side played at home to bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve 2011. Instead, United chose defender Rafael and another non-central midfielder, Ji Sung Park, for central midfield and lost the game

Asked in the podcast about his brother’s reaction when he told him he was leaving United, Pogba said: “My brother, the United fan, told me he was really angry – even more than me – when I didn’t play. He told me: ‘No, go. You can play in this team. If they don’t want you here, go somewhere else. They will see.’”

Asked what his mother said: Pogba replies: “My mother always told me: ‘You will go somewhere but come back.’ She always said this.

"I was like: ‘We will see’ but you know mothers and the things she said: ‘You will come back here, don’t worry’ and that was just after. She said you will come back to Manchester, don’t worry, and I did.”

About his return in 2016 for a world record transfer fee of £89m, Pogba said: “Yeah, when I came back, I was really happy to come back. I left it and didn’t finish. I started something but I didn’t finish, I just went somewhere else. To finish it.

"Obviously, coming back where I started was for me, why I was really happy. Now I’m ready to come as a confirmed player not a youth player.”

Talking about his self-belief and where it comes from, Pogba said: “Everything. My parents came from Africa to get to France and worked hard for me. As a kid, you don’t really know but my mum, there used to be five in the house, and it’s hard for a mother.

"You have to feed them and have to be there for them and everything. She works hard to help us, you know. For us, so we have everything, because of her, so I have to work 10 times harder and it’s something I always have in my mind. My dad as well. To be the best, the first, to always want more.

“When you have a dream, just go for it. A dream is free. You wake up after a dream but, at least when you dream, you can dream as big as you want.

"You still dream and want to achieve it. What my goals are, I always want more, we can always learn at this age or 10 or even 40 or 50. You will always learn something. I love to learn new things. I love to try things and stuff.” But the big question remains: will he continue to learn at Old Trafford, or elsewhere?

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