Manchester United are staring at the prospect of a future without Paul Pogba ahead of next season, with the midfielder widely expected to leave Old Trafford upon the expiry of his current contract.
The 28-year-old has been locked in talks over an extension since the end of Euro 2020, but now looks poised to seek a new challenge when next summer rolls around.
The possibility of a new deal for Pogba appears to be fading quickly amid United’s poor recent form, with Sunday’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Liverpool doing little to convince the Frenchman to stay.
The Red Devils were torn apart by their bitter rivals on their own patch, with goals from Naby Keita and Diogo Jota getting the Reds off to a fast start before Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick condemned the hosts to their worst loss in recent memory.
United have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games and slipped to seventh in the table as a result of their latest defeat.
Pogba was sent off during the match against Liverpool for a reckless challenge on Keita and will be suspended for United’s next three outings.
He initially made a flying start to the new season with seven assists in just four games at the beginning of the campaign.
However, he has failed to add to his tally in the months since, with a post-season exit on a free transfer now said to be the most likely scenario.
United are eager to retain Pogba’s services beyond the end of the campaign, but the player and his agent Mino Raiola are determined to keep their options open, according to ESPN.
The likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus have all been credited with an interest in the playmaker, who joined United for a club-record £89million fee back in 2016.
If Pogba is allowed to leave Old Trafford at the end of his contract, he would need to be replaced with a top-class alternative in order for the Red Devils to cope with his absence in the middle of the park.
His successor could arrive in the form of Monaco anchor Aurelien Tchouameni, who has emerged as one of Europe’s finest young players since the beginning of last season.
The 22-year-old has reportedly been on United’s radar for some time, while Chelsea have also been linked with a future move for his services.
The young midfielder has turned plenty of heads during his time at Monaco with his excellent range of passing and intelligent defensive screening, making him the perfect candidate to strengthen United’s deep-lying midfield area.
Pogba has often been deployed in this position but has struggled to perform to the best of his capabilities, with the Red Devils playmaker able to exert a greater influence on proceedings in a more advanced role.
Tchouameni has also excelled alongside Pogba at international level with France in recent months and earned a glowing review from the former after making his debut for Les Bleus back in September.
“[It was a] pleasure to play next to him,” the United man told reporters. “He brings a lot of energy. A lot of energy, extraordinary technical and physical quality.”
Monaco have slapped a price tag of around £34million on Tchouameni, according to Calciomercato, which suggests that he could be the ideal cut-price option for United to replace Pogba next season.
However, with plenty of other top sides believed to be keeping tabs on the Monaco starlet, it remains to be seen where he will end up when he inevitably leaves for a bigger club in the near future.