Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explained why Paul Pogba was left out of Manchester United’s win over Istanbul Basaksehir – with Donny van de Beek impressing in his place.
United topped their Champions League group after thrashing Basaksehir 4-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday – but Pogba was conspicuous by his absence.
The midfielder missed Saturday’s Premier League win over West Brom after returning from international duty with France – which he described as “a breath of fresh air” compared to his current struggles at United.
Pogba has struggled to nail down a place in United’s starting line-up since returning from a coronavirus lay-off, and faces fresh doubts over his future at the club.
And such doubts were only heightened by Van de Beek’s excellent performance against Basaksehir as Solskjaer went with an attacking midfield set-up.
Van de Beek was instrumental as the Red Devils’ surged into a 3-0 lead by half-time through two Bruno Fernandes goals and a penalty won and scored by Marcus Rashford.
The summer signing from Ajax moved the ball forward quickly, breaking the lines and providing plenty of service for United’s front four.
And with Van de Beek showing Solskjaer just what he can bring to United’s midfield – added to the continued fine form of Fernandes – chances for Pogba to justify his £89million price tag could well be running out.
Before Tuesday’s game, Solskjaer explained that Pogba had been ruled out by his ankle injury.
The 27-year-old trained on Monday, but experienced discomfort in his ankle afterwards and was ruled out of the Basaksehir clash on Tuesday morning.
“His ankle was swollen up, he trained yesterday but didn’t feel right and this morning was confirmation he couldn’t play,” Solskjaer told MUTV.
Pogba will no doubt hope to recover in time for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Southampton – but Van de Beek is surely the man now pushing for his first Premier League start.
After going into the break at Old Trafford 3-0 up, United scored a late fourth through Dan James after Turuc scored a consolation for Basaksehir.
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