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Manchester United

'Some Pogba criticism unfair' - Stam says Man Utd should keep Juventus & Real Madrid transfer target

11:00 BST 11/05/2020
Paul Pogba Manchester United 2019-20
The Frenchman is again being linked with a summer move but the former defender believes the 27-year-old deserves another year to prove his worth

Manchester United can build their future around a midfield of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay, according to Jaap Stam.

The Dutchman is hoping that his former club can hold on to Pogba, who has been continually linked with a move away from Old Trafford since declaring his interest in "a new challenge somewhere else" last summer.

Indeed, United fans are divided over whether to retain the services of the talented but temperamental Frenchman, particularly as January arrival Bruno Fernandes shone so brightly during Pogba's injury-enforced absence before the coronavirus outbreak forced a suspension of play in the Premier League in March.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has already admitted that the pandemic will negatively affect the club's summer transfer plans, making the decision over what to do with an asset as valuable as Pogba even more important.

Stam can understand why some supporters would like to see United cash in on the World Cup winner but the defender-turned-coach believes that the 27-year-old could yet form a formidable midfield trio with Fernandes and McTominay.

“I would love to see Paul stay because I think he’s a quality player,” the former Netherlands international told Goal in an exclusive interview.

“People expect a lot from him and there’s a lot of criticism towards him. Sometimes you can say that’s fair but other times the criticism he gets is not correct.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, of course. He needs to get fit first but I would be happy if he did stay and played another season.

“Pogba is a player who is creative, who wants to play a little bit in his own way, and sometimes you need to give him that little bit of freedom.

“If you look at Fernandes, Pogba and McTominay, I think those three together in midfield could be very interesting.

“Fernandes could play at No.10 and Pogba could play as one of the two sitting midfield players.

“He has the legs to go forward as well so you could play with two attacking midfield players if things are going well, but otherwise he can drop next to McTominay and they could play with just one No.10.

“Pogba has the legs to run from box to box, so if he can do that it will give him more of the freedom he wants to play. I think it would be very interesting.”

Pogba re-joined United from Juventus for a then-record £89 million ($110m) in 2016 but his agent, Mino Raiola, has previously admitted that his client would be open to a return to Turin, while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has never hidden his admiration for his compatriot.