MANCHESTER: Jose Mourinho says he wants Paul Pogba to stay at Manchester United as fresh reports linked the midfielder with a move away from Old Trafford, this time to French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
The Frenchman, 25, has endured a difficult season at Old Trafford, with Mourinho leaving him out of the starting line-up for both legs of the Champions League last-16 defeat by Sevilla.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said last month that Pogba had been offered to the club by agent Mino Raiola during the January transfer window and it has been reported in recent days that PSG have also been asked if they want the midfielder.
Mourinho said last week that there was "no chance" of goalkeeper David de Gea, voted the club’s player of the year, leaving after he was linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Yet the manager was far more equivocal when asked about Pogba, despite saying he wanted the midfielder to stay.
"I think he's going to be here next season," Mourinho told the press ahead of Thursday's Premier League match at West Ham. "That's my feeling."
Pogba joined United's youth academy from Le Havre in 2009, then left for Juventus in 2012 after getting limited first-team opportunities at Old Trafford.
He returned in 2016 for a club-record fee of £89 million ($121 million), and helped United win the League Cup and the Europa League in his first season but has since suffered injury problems and reportedly had a falling out with Mourinho.
The United manager, asked to guarantee that Pogba would not leave, made clear that he wanted the player to stay, but was cautious beyond about his long-term future.
"I can give the guarantee that I don’t want him to leave, that the club doesn't want to sell him and I can give you the guarantee that we don't have any approach from him or his agent or from any club," he said. "In this moment for me, he's staying, yes."
Mourinho has questioned the mentality of some members of his squad, saying that something "doesn't smell right" about the way they have lost to all three promoted teams this season.
Last Friday’s 1-0 defeat at Brighton followed a loss by the same score at Newcastle in February, and came after they were beaten 2-1 at Huddersfield in October.
United are set to finish second in the Premier League, having beaten every other team in this season's top six -- but that has left the manager questioning their consistency.
"When you lose against the small teams and you win against the big teams it's not right," he said. "But when you lose against the big teams and you win against the small teams, that is also not right.
"I think it's normal that during the season, you have your low moments but in a balanced way."
Mourinho has no plans for a major overhaul of his squad, arguing he does not have the finances to buy players at will, which could be interpreted as a criticism of Manchester City.
The United manager did not refer to City directly, but did discuss the advantages of a "perfect squad" where a manager can buy one goalkeeper, then drop him and buy another, as Guardiola has done with Claudio Bravo and Ederson.
"In my squad, I have some players where I would like to have better than what I have," he said. "That’s basic."