Pogba exit could be blessing in disguise for Solskjaer if Man Utd can complete £25m deal
Manchester United v Everton: Match in pictures
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Manchester United may possess one of the most luxurious squads in world football, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is rooted in the Hotel California of formations. Solskjaer is not the first manager to look to the 4-2-3-1 formation as a means of cramming all his quality players into the same eleven.
Jose Mourinho endured stays in the 4-2-3-1 purgatory in his second spell at Chelsea, as well as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Gareth Southgate could become the latest guest, as his 4-3-3 deployment against Hungary appeared to impress offensively but struggle defensively.
Once a manager and their players check in to the the line-up, it’s such a lovely place. Well at least it is on paper.
Unfortunately, the pile of screwed up papers Solskjaer has accumulated when trying to crow bar his quality into the line-up is currently higher than Old Trafford himself.
Paul Pogba has arguably shown his best form for Manchester United since he arrived from Juventus in 2016 for a then British record £89m.
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In Marcus Rashford’s injury absence, Solskjaer has moved him onto the left hand side of the front four. At times he has been magical,but United have supposedly lacked the drive, pace, and bite Rashford provides.
Pogba is naturally a deep lying central midfielder, yet aside from a 20-minute cameo from the bench against Everton, Pogba is yet to start in the middle against a team in the top-half this season.
Solskjaer will not deploy Pogba as the No.10 as he would occupy Bruno Fernandes’ position, and with the Portuguese striker leading United’s goalscoring charts, he is one of Solskjaer’s untouchables.
Unfortuanately, Pogba has found himself in the ultimate catch-22 situation where he is too good for the bench, but wherever he plays, he will be deployed in a position where he nor Solskjaer are totally comfortable.
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And if United were able to replace the possible free transfer of Pogba with another possible free transfer in AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, then Solskjaer’s desires could come true.
Reports from the Telegraph in July claimed Solskjaer said to his squad he was eager to play a more adventurous 4-3-3 formation, yet he has not been able to deploy the line-up this season. Kessie’s has everything the perfect box-to-box midfielder needs.
The Ivory Coast midfielder almost combines the area covering and dominating qualities of Roy Keane and the clinical, attacking exploits of Frank Lampard. And with his deal set to expire next summer, he is available as a free transfer.
Solskjaer currently has the goals and creativity of Fernandes and the midfield defensive instincts and strength of Scott McTominay; however, they are lacking the player to balance the strengths of both players.
During Project Restart, Pogba looked to be the perfect counter-balance as United appeared to be striking the right chord.
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A 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur later, Solskjaer shelved the idea in the hotel safe, and it has rarely been seen since.
If Pogba was to leave on a free transfer, Kessie could be the permanent option to hold McTominay and Fernandes together.
Unfortunately, Liverpool is also rumoured to view Kessie in the same way. Reports from Corriere dello Sport claim Jurgen Klopp’s side are even willing to offer Kessie a £25.5m sign on fee to come to Anfield.
That is one spectacular pay cheque, just for walking through the doors. United may need quite the charm offensive to coax Kessie to Old Trafford, but launch one they must.
Kessie has everything needed to open the door for Solskjaer and release him and United from the purgatory of the 4-2-3-1.
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