Manchester United have reportedly assembled a two-man shortlist if Paul Pogba departs when his contract expires in 2022.
Both Franck Kessie and Tanguy Ndombele have been touted as potential replacements for the Frenchman, who is in scintillating form for the Red Devils as they keep pace with the Premier League’s big hitters after five games.
With less than 12 months remaining on Pogba’s contract, he will be able to negotiate a pre-contract deal with overseas clubs in January ahead of a free summer transfer.
He has made a mesmerising start to the campaign, registering seven assists in his first five games as he chases the all-time Premier League record of 20 in a single season.
Losing such a talented midfield general for free would be a major kick in the teeth, given they broke the world transfer record to recruit him back in 2016.
While The Sun claim that United are posturing to make him the highest-paid player in Premier League history in order to convince him to stay, the club would be wise to prepare for every eventuality.
As a result, both Franck Kessie and Tanguy Ndombele are being monitored, according to CalcioMercato.
The pair have plenty in common, both possessing huge talent and likely to be available on cut-price deals, albeit for different reasons.
AC Milan’s Kessie is also out of contract in 2022, and although the Rossoneri are doing their best to convince him to stay, others with financial muscle could lure him elsewhere.
The Ivorian has blossomed into a superb goal-scoring midfielder, netting 13 in Serie A last campaign.
As January could mark the beginning of concrete negotiations with the player, it may boil down to who can offer him the most tempting deal, although Liverpool and Tottenham are among the other clubs sure to put in offers of their own.
If that was the deciding factor, it would be hard to bet against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side breaking the bank to tempt him into signing, with Cristiano Ronaldo currently pocketing a colossal £480,000-a-week.
Elsewhere, Ndombele would be a surprise alternative given that his time in the Premier League has not been an unmitigated success with Spurs.
Although he started Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, he had been frozen out of the side under Nuno Espirito Santo and has previously had issues staying fit.
His talent is undeniable, however, as a strong, technically gifted, adventurous passer who can claim many of Pogba’s positive characteristics.
The north London side paid big money to sign him, and he reportedly picks up the same weekly wage as Harry Kane, but it is hard to imagine they would stand in his way if a reasonable offer came in.
With all this being said, United’s plan A will still surely be to tie Pogba down to a new deal. As yet, however, the Frenchman and his entourage are making United sweat.