Paul Pogba has publicly announced his intentions to leave Manchester United this summer, saying he needs a new challenge.
The Frenchman has been linked with a move to Real Madrid but there is little movement on the transfer front due to Los Blancos’ reluctance to stump up the £150million fee Manchester United are demanding.
Pogba will reportedly consider handing in a transfer request at Old Trafford and going on strike if United attempt to block his dream move.
The midfielder went one better this weekend while speaking to the press in Japan.
He said: “Like you said, there is a lot of talking and a lot of thinking as well.
“After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well… I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.
“I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else.”
So with Pogba potentially on the move, who could replace him at United? We look at five possible candidates.
We start with the obvious one, Fernandes. The Portugal international has been linked with a move to United since the transfer window opened.
He’s an attacking central midfield player with age on his side.
What’s more he has openly admitted he will talk to Sporting Lisbon about leaving should a bid come in for him.
One potential problem for United is Atletico Madrid’s interest in him.
The Spanish giants have stolen a march on United by making a £44.6m bid for the midfielder. They can also offer him Champions League football.
United must therefore move quickly to secure this deal, if it is indeed a priority. They will certainly have the cash from the Pogba sale.
A cheaper alternative – albeit his wages will set United back a few quid – is Rabiot, who is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain.
The French club have no intentions of offering him a new deal, but he has already received contract offers from a number of clubs.
United may not have Champions League football next season but they are still a more attractive proposition than most clubs.
Rabiot wouldn’t be a like-for-like replacement for Pogba, as, simply put, he is not as good as his compatriot.
But he would certainly bulk up United’s midfield, and he is young, which is a bonus.
One problem, as aforesaid, is his wages.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is attempting to move on the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku to lower the wage bill, and the club is even reluctant to offer David de Gea an extortionate pay rise.
Big wages could turn United off the Frenchman.
Belgium international Tielemans impressed with Leicester City in the Premier League last season while on loan from Monaco.
So much so in fact that it looked like he would be heading to the King Power on a permanent basis.
But Manchester United have shown an interest in the midfielder and have made two approaches for the Belgian already this summer transfer window.
Tielemans is said to have little interest in returning to play in the French league and favours a switch to the English top flight.
Like with the Fernandes deal, it’s up to Manchester United to move quickly to secure the transfer, should they indeed feel he is the right man for them.
Tottenham midfielder Eriksen announced he’d be open to a transfer away from north London a few weeks ago, even name-dropping Real Madrid.
“Real Madrid is a step up but then it would take Real Madrid picking up the phone and making contact with Tottenham and say that they want Christian,” he said.
“And that they haven’t done, as far as I know. It all depends on Daniel Levy and there has to be another club too. Or I will sit down, myself, at the table and negotiate a new contract.
“You can’t set a date yourself. There aren’t many boxes that Tottenham don’t tick so if I have to move away, it would have to be a step up.”
The problem here for Eriksen of course is that if Pogba goes to Real Madrid this summer then the door is shut for him to follow suit.
A transfer to Manchester United wouldn’t be a step up where football is concerned, but Eriksen may feel a switch to a club of a bigger stature – where he’ll earn much more money – now that he is getting on in years may be perfect for him.
Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a transfer to Manchester United for a little while now.
The former Liverpool star has flopped at the Nou Camp and is reportedly open to the idea of leaving the club.
He would of course cost United a bomb and his astronomical wages would make the transfer the most expensive on this list.
But should the Red Devils get anywhere near the £150million they’re asking for Pogba then the deal should be feasible.
What’s more, fans will demand a marquee signing is made should Pogba walk away from the club, and Coutinho would be exactly that.
The former Liverpool midfielder was one of the Premier League’s best players before he switched England for a new life in Spain.
The transfer may be perfect for all parties involved.