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Paul Pogba replacement identified as Man Utd transfer chiefs prepare for summer exit

Manchester United will look to move for Ajax starlet Ryan Gravenberch should Paul Pogba depart this summer.

The Frenchman’s contract expires in a matter of months leaving him free to seek pastures new. The midfielder returned to Old Trafford in 2016 for £89million and remains their record signing. Pogba has performed inconsistently with only three trophies to show for his six years at the club.

He and his agent Mino Raiola have both spoken publicly about moves elsewhere amid links to the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus.

The two parties haven’t come to the negotiating table for some time and the expectation is that Pogba will move on. That would leave United seeking reinforcements in the middle of the park.

Gravenberch has become an increasingly influential figure for Ajax and has attracted attention from around Europe. The Athletic reports that United have scouted the midfielder, although his preference is a move to Bayern Munich. Raiola also represents Gravenberch and he has not been shy in criticising United publicly in the past.

Any move may yet be influenced by Erik Ten Hag, who remains a United managerial target. A move to Old Trafford for the Dutchman could yet play a role in their pursuit of Gravenberch. However failure to secure Champions League football may be a stumbling block in negotiations.

That is not thought to be the case for all of United’s targets, who would be open to joining regardless of whether they finish in the top four. United’s current central midfield options are Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic. Pogba has played in that role but often faced criticism for his lack of discipline.

During his time with the Red Devils he has also played as a No 10 and on the left of the attack. Despite his contract situation Ralf Rangnick claimed recently he had no issues playing the Frenchman regularly, claiming his mindset could prove advantageous for the squad.

He said previously: “By the way, my contract as a manager is also expiring in the summer. For us we have the same goal. We have the same ambition to be as successful as we can possibly be in the next three or four months.” He also added: “Even if it’s only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that and why should I then not play him?”

Declan Rice is also among those to be linked with a switch to Old Trafford and spoke fondly of the Theatre of Dreams earlier this season. Amadou Haidara, currently at RB Leipzig, was a January target and could yet be pursued if Rangnick makes any recommendations in his consultancy role.

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