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The French midfielder has been touted for a move by his agent Mino Raiola, however the former Red Devil hopes he will remain at the club

Renewed exit talk surrounding Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba “can be taken with a pinch of salt”, says former Red Devils player Alan Smith, who hopes the “world class” star will stay at Old Trafford.

Pogba has regularly been linked with other clubs during his second stint with the Red Devils, with talk of a move intensifying following his agent Mino Raiola’s recent claims that his days in Manchester are coming to an end.

Despite this, Smith feels that Pogba’s recent performances show that he is committed to United and still has a strong relationship with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, meaning he has the capacity to stay at the club and play at his best.

Smith, speaking exclusively to AmericanGambler.com, said: “The club has been through it a million times with other players, so from a club and player standpoint, it won’t make any difference whatsoever. I think that anything coming out of there can be taken with a pinch of salt.

“Paul has played the last few games and done really well, and changed the game when he came on in Europe. For me it’s all about the relationship between Paul and Ole, and if the manager is playing him then his mind must be in the right place to play, and his last couple of performances have shown that.

“He has proven that he is a world-class player over time, he’s won everything that there is to win at such a young age. As a player himself, no player likes criticism and criticism affects every player so that you’re not playing with as much confidence.

“I hope he does stay, and prove to people that he does want to be there. His last couple of performances have spoken volumes, and he just needs a good run, stay injury-free and prove to people just how good a player he is – and I’m sure that’s what he wants to do as well.”

Raiola’s comments angered pundits and United fans as they came a day before the club’s crunch Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, for which Pogba started on the bench. The Premier League side lost 3-2, condemning them to Europa League football in the new year.

Smith, however, sees the agent talk as part of modern football, and the decision will only lie with Pogba.

He said: “It’s an agent’s job to create speculation if they can get someone a move, so we can probably take the stuff that comes out of there with a pinch of salt.

“Ultimately, whatever the agent says, the player is the one who will decide where he wants to go. Until Paul says he wants to leave, and United say that his future doesn’t lie at Old Trafford, take it with a pinch of salt. They were speaking about giving him a new contract not so long ago, so maybe his agent is playing devil’s advocate on that one as well!”

Former England international Smith is also impressed by another United midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, who he sees as a true match-winner in the mould of previous Old Trafford icons like Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Smith said: “I think every team needs to have that one player who people look to for inspiration. Fernandes brings the quality and opposition are worried about him.

“We talk about United playing on the counter-attack but I think the next element that people would like to see for Fernandes is in the big games, have we got a player who can bring the star quality to be a match-winner like a Cantona, Rooney or Ronaldo?

“When United beat Newcastle to the league title, Cantona scored four or five goals in 1-0 victories, and they are the difference makers that win you championships, but it’s so difficult to find those players.”

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December 18, 2020
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