Jose Mourinho has named Paul Pogba as Manchester United captain in what appears to be an attempt to bury the hatchet with the player.
Pogba will wear the armband when United kick the new Premier League season off against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Friday night.
The 25-year-old won the World Cup with France this summer but questions have been hanging over his future at the club following weeks of speculation.
Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, is understood to have offered the midfielder to Barcelona in an attempt to force through a big-money transfer.
Personal terms were even said to have been agreed and reports claim Pogba has told the Red Devils he wants a massive pay rise if he is to remain in Manchester.
United are keenly aware that the transfer window remains open for Spanish teams and Barca could continue to pursue the superstar until the end of August
Making Pogba captain for the big kick-off, in the absence of regular skipper Antonio Valencia, is seen as another attempt to ease the tension.
Mourinho told Sky: “Last season he was captain a few times. The captain is Valencia but he is not here and Paul is one of the options.
“It’s his third season in the club. He was made in the academy and understands the club. He’s got a good relationship with the boys in the dressing room and a good example today in making himself available.”
Manchester United legend Gary Neville, who works for Sky Sports as a pundit, reckons it is a shrewd move from the Special One.
He added: “I think it’s a good move because what we all saw in the summer was Pogba demanding things of players in the France dressing room.
“He seemed to be a leader in that dressing room and Jose knows he needs that out here at the start of the season.
“He’s now got the armband and can go out there and do his stuff. It’s a big season for Paul Pogba and let’s see how he responds now.”