Jose Mourinho: Paul Pogba never asked to leave Manchester United
MANCHESTER, England -- Jose Mourinho has admitted he is "in the dark" over Paul Pogba's plans for the future but insists the France World Cup winner has never told him he wants to quit Manchester United.
Pogba has refused to shut down talk of a move away from Old Trafford, saying during the international break "who knows what will happen in the next few months."
Sources have told ESPN FC that the 25-year-old, who is under contract until at least 2021, is open to a transfer to Barcelona next summer, although executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been firm in his stance that the midfielder is not for sale after refusing to listen to offers from the Spanish club after the World Cup.
"Paul came back after the World Cup the week before we started the Premier League," Mourinho said. "We are together two months or so. He never told me he wants to leave. Never. He never told me he wants to leave.
"I can only comment on what is real for me, not in what I read, not in what I listen. I have no direct relation with the people that write or the people that listen. I have a direct relation with the players and he never told me he wants to leave.
"If he doesn't tell me he wants to leave, it's because he wants to stay. That's my conclusion, no?"
There has been speculation Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, tried to engineer a move to Barcelona in the summer, while former club Juventus are also reported to be interested.
Mourinho was quick to point out he is not involved in conversations between Pogba and his agent but insisted Raiola, like Pogba, has never informed him of a desire to leave.
"I don't know if that is true," said the United manager when asked whether Raiola was trying to force a transfer to Barcelona. "I also need the agent to tell me or tell you in a way that I can see.
"For example, this week I read a few things Gareth Southgate supposedly said. Then I watched the footage, and he didn't say at all what was written.
"If I watch Mr Raiola on the screen saying the player wants to leave, and that he is organising a way for him to try to leave or so on, then I will believe.
"At this moment, I am in the dark. The only thing that is clear for me is that the player never -- never in all these days we are together -- he never told me that he wants to leave.
"You have to ask him. As a manager I tell you the truth."
Pogba is set to start against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening as United look to dent the host's perfect start to the season.
Former United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville says it is "obvious" Pogba wants to leave but has urged the former Juventus man to remain focused.
"If I was still in that dressing room giving personal advice it would be, 'Paul, it's obvious you want to play somewhere else but be professional'," Neville said. "Don't be someone who is seen as a mercenary or a mutineer. You don't need to do that."