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Football Reporting

Manchester City

‘This is a team sport’

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at Mino Raiola by reminding Paul Pogba‘s agent that football “is a team sport.”

Raiola announced on Monday that Pogba will not sign a contract extension and wants to leave Old Trafford — 24 hours before the crucial clash with RB Leipzig that United lost 3-2 to crash out of the Champions League.

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Rio Ferdinand branded the timing of Raiola’s comments “disgusting” before Solskjaer used his postmatch news conference to vent his frustration at Pogba’s representative.

“As soon as Paul’s agent realises this is a team sport and we work together the better and that’s maybe the last thing I’ll say on that,” said Solskjaer.

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“What we speak about in the background is something. I’m not going to talk about Paul’s agent anymore.”

In his interview with Tuttosport, Raiola demanded United sell Pogba, who was left on the bench against Leipzig, either in January or at the end of the season because the 27-year-old is “unhappy” at the club he joined for a world record fee in 2016.

The Frenchman still has 18 months left on his existing deal and Solskjaer was in no mood to talk about his transfer plans after seeing his team eliminated from the Champions League in Germany.

“You have got to ask Paul if he is happy or unhappy,” Solskjaer told BT Sport. “He is focused on doing his best for the team. Now is not the time to discuss transfers.”

Before the match, Solskjaer said his decision to drop Pogba to the bench ahead of the loss to Leipzig as purely tactical and had nothing to do with Raiola’s comments.

“My decision tonight is obviously tactical,” Solskjaer told BT Sport ahead of kickoff. “The decision was made way before this game because we decided on Scott [McTominay] and Nemanja [Matic] in midfield before we played West Ham. We always think about the team.”

Raiola’s comments overshadowed the build-up to a huge week for United, who play Manchester City on Saturday, four days after they lost the make-or-break tie with Leipzig.

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But asked what affect the storm has had on preparations, Solskjaer replied: “Nothing. For me, we prepare for every single game as if it’s your last. We’ve got City on Saturday but that doesn’t matter. The preparation has been good.”

Pogba was brought on in the 60th minute of United’s loss, which saw them exit the competition in the group stage to set up a return to the Europa League next campaign as third-place finishers in their group.

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