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Pogba, Raiola & Man Utd 'disruption': Why these claims just don't add up...

COMMENT: A message to those concerned Manchester United fans: if Mino Raiola really is engineering a move away for Paul Pogba - we'd all know about it...

It's blaring today: Stories of office room bust-ups. Of 'him or me' ultimatums. They're now doing the rounds. Along with the assertion that Raiola is on the nose at Old Trafford. It's claimed the board feels he has too much influence and it is he who is behind Pogba's unhappiness.

But that's news to Raiola and those close to him. Admittedly, this was a fortnight ago, but one source connected to Raiola told this column that "he has no idea" where stories of Pogba being offered to Real Madrid were "coming from".

"Go and asked United", we were told when exploring the claims of a looming summer split.

As mentioned, the headlines are screaming today. But it has to be remembered, Raiola isn't one to leave you second guessing.

The Italian doesn't do things behind closed doors, especially when he believes his client has a grievance. If Pogba feels hard done by - and Raiola agrees an injustice has been committed - he'll be shouting it from the rooftops. From France, Italy, even via his goto man in England, Jim White, he'd leave no-one in doubt.

Just consider Gigio Donnarumma's situation at AC Milan. It was a summer of turmoil for the goalkeeping phenomenon, including legal threats and attempts to have contracts rescinded. Raiola was prepared to go to any lengths to get his client out of the club - even with four more of his players still on the books.

For now, it seems peace has broken out. But not everywhere - with Raiola still in a public slanging match with sports director Massimo Mirabelli.

“Mirabelli has a personal problem with me and uses Gigio Donnarumma to attack me," declared Raiola over Christmas. "I won't make a media circus out of it, nor do I want it to affect Gigio.

"What interests me now is that Gigio is left in peace so he can do his best. That also ought to be the priority for the Milan director of sport. If that is not the case, then it ought to be priority of the Milan owners or whoever represents them."

The Rossonero support know exactly where everyone stands. Raiola has made sure of that. And he'd do the same regarding Pogba, United and Jose Mourinho. Just ask Barcelona and Pep Guardiola. It's now seven years since Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled on a Barca shirt, but that's never stopped Raiola from haranguing Guardiola over his treatment of the Swede. If he felt the same way about Pogba and Mourinho, we'd know all about it.

But a lot of things around this story don't add up.

For one, the claims of Pogba feeling he's been played out of position. That he believes his best role is on the left-side of midfield. The 'Zidane position', where traditionally there is less traffic than in anyother area of the pitch.

Which is exactly where Mourinho fielded Pogba in defeat at Tottenham: "We play with Matic as a No.6, Lingard on the right side of Matic and Pogba on the left side.

“You know which is the Pogba preferred system? 4-3-3? Do you know Pogba's favourite position in 4-3-3? No.8 on the left."

So Mourinho's knows Pogba's preferred position. He plays him in his preferred position. Yet, the story goes Pogba believes he is being played OUT of position. Who's fooling who here?

Then there's the "disruptive" claims. That Raiola has too much influence inside the United locker room and is unsettling Mourinho's players. Which, again, is simply a baffling claim.

Indeed if anything, Mourinho and United owe Raiola for a successful winter market. Henrikh Mkhitaryan never wanted to leave United. He really, really did not want to go. But Raiola, rather than be stubborn and dig in, worked with Mourinho and managed to persuade the Armenian to make the move. That Alexis Sanchez arrived in the opposite direction without money changing hands is one of the great January deals since Premier League clubs (meekly) complied to FIFA's transfer windows system.

But it doesn't end there. For it was Raiola who convinced Sergio Romero to rethink his plans to quit United last month. The Argentine goalkeeper's decision to stay, with his World Cup place under threat, owed much to his agent's influence. Like with Mkhitaryan, Raiola could've been a 'disruptive' force and created problems for Mourinho. But things were quietly settled away from the cameras and press.

So the message to whomever from inside United is moaning to the media has to be: Get over yourself. Raiola, since being welcomed back inside the tent, has been good for United. They're a stronger club for reconnecting with him.

The stories today - and of the past few weeks - have the whiff of an agenda. Whether it's resentful media, jealous rival agents or whingers inside the boardroom, the complaints just don't add up.

There's nothing from the current stories which suggest anything has changed from what we heard a fortnight ago: "Problem? What problem...?"

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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