Ralf Rangnick warns wantaway stars to keep on competing for Manchester United

Paul Pogba has given the clearest indication yet that he will leave Old Trafford on a free transfer this summer.

Ralf Rangnick dismissed Paul Pogba’s claims that Manchester United’s season is “dead” (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Ian Parker, PA

Ralf Rangnick has issued a warning to Paul Pogba after the France midfielder claimed Manchester United’s season was “dead” now that all hopes of winning a trophy are over.

Pogba made the comments to French newspaper Le Figaro during the international break, with the 29-year-old giving the clearest indication yet that he will leave Old Trafford on a free transfer this summer.

But Rangnick, who has already said United cannot afford to drop any more points in the battle for a Champions League place, rejected Pogba’s claims in pointed terms.

Paul Pogba told a French newspaper United’s season was over now that hopes of silverware are gone (Martin Rickett/PA)

“No, even less so for example for players whose contracts are running out,” he said. “They need to recommend themselves for this club or any another club.

“Either way it would not be wise for them to let the season peter out, we can’t afford that, even more so a club like Manchester United.

“Those players whose contracts are running out, they have to recommend themselves and the players who are still in contract, they have to recommend themselves to a new manager.”

United host Leicester on Saturday evening, in a match offering them an opportunity to both move back above fifth-placed Tottenham, who face Newcastle on Sunday, and apply pressure on fourth-placed Arsenal, who do not travel to Crystal Palace until Monday.

Pogba is one of several players who can walk away from United for nothing this summer, with a major overhaul expected as a new permanent manager comes in – the recruitment process having stepped up in recent days with Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag having been interviewed for the role.

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The sales pitch to potential new signings would certainly be easier with the offer of Champions League football, but after seeing Bruno Fernandes commit himself to the club until 2026 on Friday, Rangnick said the lure of United remains obvious.

“This is another example of a player where there would have been interest from other clubs in Europe and he decided to stay here and sign a new long-term contract,” the German said.

“He wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t believe in the future of this club. It shows that independent of knowing if there’s going to be Champions League or not that it’s a massive club, an attractive club.

“There are reasons that I’m here and there’s reasons the club is in a position that we are currently in and it’s about finding out and pressing the right buttons and pulling the right screws to make sure in the future we can regularly qualify for Champions League again and win trophies.”

Asked to explain those reasons, Rangnick said it was primarily a question of player recruitment. United have not wanted for funds in recent years, even when they last failed to make the top four in the 2019, but significant investment in the squad has not always delivered returns.

Expensive recruits like Alexis Sanchez have failed to deliver for United in recent seasons (Martin Rickett/PA)

Much has been made of the fact the current squad includes players signed by five different managers employing five different philosophies – something Rangnick wants to see change starting this summer.

“It’s always good if you have money available to sign players but the question is do you sign the right players?,” he said. “It’s not only a question of money but a question of what kind of idea do you have behind that? What kind of philosophy? And how do you want to play?

“In the end it’s about recruitment, having the right players, signing the right players at the right time, not signing wrong players at the wrong time.

“It’s pretty easy in football, it’s about having a recruitment process and what kind of players do we really need for which kind of football and what do we stand for and then, again, have the best possible manager to fit into that.”

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