Paul Pogba is demonstrating the power he has at Manchester United to Jose Mourinho, Sam Wallace told the Sunday Supplement.
After captaining United to an opening-day win over Leicester, Pogba admitted that he has had to bite his tongue when discussing his situation or risk being fined.
Two years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus, the 25-year-old is reported to be unhappy and informed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward of his desire to leave.
While United have denied that occurred, Wallace feels there will be only be one winner if the club’s hierarchy have to make a decision between keeping the player or their manager.
Speaking on the Sunday Supplement, the Daily Telegraph’s chief football writer said: “This troika of figures at United, the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who is unquestionably the most powerful man at the club – there is literally no manager who can challenge him in terms of a relationship with the Glazers – the manager Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, their highest-profile player; the weakest of the three is Mourinho.
“There was no question that United would let Pogba go to Barcelona, I’m not sure they could afford him anyway. They tried to throw some pretty mediocre players in.
“I am surprised by what Pogba has said, because it’s pretty bold, I think it shows his confidence. He’s been told he’s a crucial part of the club’s on-field and commercial success, and he’s going very close to saying what he wants.
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will be aware of Pogba’s comments
“I don’t think there’s any question that a player would say that under Fergie because you’d have been finished.
“The days of when Real Madrid and Barcelona could just buy players out of the Premier League are over for the time being, so this was all in the nuance, and Jose will understand it. Mourinho understands power, and this is a player demonstrating the power that he has.”
Mourinho appeared to unsettle Pogba with comments during the World Cup, and the player’s agent Mino Raiola reportedly tried to engineer a move to Barcelona for his client with two days of the English transfer window remaining.
The Daily Mail’s chief sports writer Martin Samuel believes it is never a good sign when a player is speaking cryptically about his manager.
He said: “Clearly things aren’t right, there’s a disconnect between the three key players at United and none of it is particularly healthy. But a lot of what Mourinho said in the summer made sense. He clearly intended to motivate Pogba and make him focused for United as he was with France.
“Without doubt he will have been impressed by his willingness to play against Leicester. He got the captaincy and played very well, but Mourinho will have noticed the line and there will always be a response, because there always is.”