Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relishing Paul Pogba-Bruno Fernandes prospect
Sky Sports exclusive: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals he has fully-fit squad to choose from when season resumes
Last Updated: 08/05/20 5:00pm
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in no doubt Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes will thrive linking up in Manchester United's midfield, believing "good players can always play together".
It was reported this week FIFA are investigating the transfer of Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon following a complaint from his former team Sampdoria. The 25-year-old joined United from Sporting in January for an initial fee of £48m and has registered three goals and four assists in nine games.
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Sky Sports understand Sampdoria inserted a 10 per cent sell-on clause on any profit Sporting made on Fernandes when they sold him in 2017. However, the Portuguese club say that clause is null and void as the playmaker signed a fresh deal in June 2018 after terminating the original one.
Solskjaer is keen to get the player back out onto the pitch, where his stellar performances earned him the Premier League player of the month award for February prior to the lockdown - and he will have the chance to develop a strong understanding with Pogba, whose season had been wrecked by two ankle injuries.
When asked about the prospect of playing Fernandes alongside Pogba in midfield for the remaining games, the United manager told Sky Sports: "Good players can always play together, so definitely, they can - it's a big yes.
"I think it's exciting... we do have an exciting squad. I've got Scott (McTominay), Fred, Nemanja (Matic).There's many games coming up and I'm sure we can find a good connection between them. We've been discussing that as a coaching team of course, and we're looking forward to it.
"Of course Bruno coming in, making the impact he made, it was a boost for everyone, the club, supporters and players. Getting Paul and Marcus Rashford back would be fantastic.
"Paul has had a difficult season with injuries, and Marcus as well is getting back. So for us, and for them too, this gives them a chance to start on a par or even ahead of other players."
Graphic courtesy of Statsbomb
Ole: We're always looking to improve squad
United were on an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions prior to football's shutdown, with the 2-0 win in the Manchester derby keeping Solskjaer's side in fifth place with nine games still to play.
United's upturn in form coincided with the arrival of Odion Ighalo on a six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua, and the Nigerian revealed earlier this month there is "no offer on the table yet" from United over extending his stay at the club beyond his current spell.
Solskjaer confirmed he is happy with his current squad but that the club will always be looking at ways to improve personnel.
We're always looking to improve the squad. This uncertainty in the market now, who knows how football and the market is going to be, but I'm very happy with the squad I've got.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
"I think Mason (Greenwood), Anthony (Martial) and Marcus have been fantastic this season, they've scored up to 50 goals between them," the United boss continued. "Marcus got his injury, on course for his best season, Anthony too, and Mason of course is just a unique talent with his goal-scoring ability.
"But we're always looking to improve the squad. This uncertainty in the market now, who knows how football and the market is going to be, but I'm very happy with the squad I've got.
"Today's world is different to what it was two months ago. We've got to adjust, adapt, there's clubs out there struggling more than us financially. It's a new world, and I think the transfer market this summer will be completely different to what anyone thought it would be."
'There is always pressure to win trophies at United'
Solskjaer confirmed every member of his first-team squad is now back in the UK from their respective home countries, but the group are yet to return to Carrington in any capacity as the players continue to carry out individual training programmes.
Club doctors have been on the site in preparation for the season resuming, and Solskjaer is confident that his squad will be in the best physical condition should the Premier League be given the green light to return.
"We've got loads at stake," Solskjaer continued. "We've just started to find form, three points behind Chelsea, we've got nine games, so we're hoping to move up the table. That's what we've got to do, and whenever that starts, and we're going to try to catch them.
"Now, it's about getting them together as a group. That's a strange scenario; we've been working in a team environment all these years, you're used to the connection with the boys, shaking hands, giving them a hug if they need to.
"Now with all this, that's gone, so that's my main concern, how we get back and how we're going to build that environment again.
"We've always got this pressure at Man United of trophies, winning the next game. We've been through a difficult season, a rebuild, I think everyone knows that and has seen that. And I think we're starting to see something exciting.
"We're still in the FA Cup, we'd like to win it, the Europa League we're still in. Of course we'd like to win trophies. I think the players we have are exciting, and they're getting better and better, most of them are improving.
"What we're working towards - with the principles and the way we want to play - yes, we're settle defensively, we want to get more exciting attacking wise, but with Marcus back, Bruno and Paul back, you'd expect us to be more exciting."
Ole: You cannot force someone to play
Solskjaer underlined the club will take no risks when it comes to the players' safety and welfare, with social distancing upheld at all times until it is safe for those measures to be eased.
Clubs could face the prospect of having players who refuse to play amid the coronavirus crisis, and Solskjaer would understand if any of his squad had reservations about returning in the current climate.
The 47-year-old said: "You wouldn't hold anything against them. If a player is not mentally ready to play, I don't think we could force anyone. They've not raised too many concerns, but of course we trust the experts, the health officers."
When asked about the prospect of playing behind closed doors at neutral venues, Solskjaer added: "Football has always been about the fans, the environment we play in and the atmosphere.
"But these are strange times. Whatever they decide, it's going to be a boost for everyone to get football back on. I'm just hoping we get a safe solution soon."
Neville: Who can afford Pogba after pandemic?
Gary Neville told The Football Show Pogba's long-rumoured departure from Manchester United could be put on hold for at least a year as a result of the fallout of the coronavirus epidemic, with clubs feeling the financial pressure of the ongoing lockdown across Europe, and perhaps unable to afford a man who still ranks as the Premier League's most expensive player.
"The direction all season of Pogba's career was always facing away from Manchester in the sense that there was so much speculation and his agent was coming out all the time," he said. "And now with what's happened, coronavirus and the economic reset in football, what clubs are going to be able to buy Paul Pogba for the reputed £80m, £100m fees that were being thrown around?
"Which clubs are going to be paying the huge wages he's on at Manchester United? I'm not diminishing him as a player, I'm just talking about the economic situation the whole world finds itself in.
"Paul Pogba may have to, and may want to, sit at Manchester United for the next 12 to 18 months, and look at the fact he's at a club he can play with Bruno Fernandes, Fred, (Scott) McTominay, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, De Gea, Rashford, Greenwood, Rashford."
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