Paul Pogba has told Jose Mourinho that he wants to quit Manchester United as he tries to force through a move to Barcelona.
Sportsmail understands that Pogba’s desire to leave Old Trafford was the reason behind Mourinho’s decision to strip the club’s £89million record signing of captaincy duties.
Pogba has skippered United on three occasions this season, but Mourinho decided that it was no longer acceptable for a player pushing for a move to wear the armband amid concerns over the 25-year-old’s attitude.
The United squad were informed of the decision at Carrington on Tuesday, hours before their Carabao Cup tie with Derby County. Pogba and regular captain Antonio Valencia were not selected for the game, though the France midfielder was a spectator at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
Mourinho’s relationship with Pogba has become strained over the last 18 months, and it’s understood that the two men have been in contact by text message in recent weeks as speculation grows over the player’s future at United.
Pogba had already informed Old Trafford executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward of his wish to go after his agent Mino Raiola struck a deal with Barcelona over personal terms in the summer.
Woodward remains determined to keep hold of United’s biggest star, but Mourinho’s decision to effectively downgrade the player will only make that more difficult.
Pogba’s behaviour has also been a cause for concern among Mourinho and his coaching staff for some time.
They were unhappy that the midfielder was playing loud music on the top deck of the team bus on the way to Saturday’s game against Wolves at Old Trafford when they felt there should have been a quieter focus on the match.
Pogba has also raised eyebrows by reporting for duty at the team’s Lowry Hotel base in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce this season.
He was driven away from Burnley and straight to the airport to join up with the France squad after United’s win at Turf Moor earlier this month, while the rest of his team-mates went on the bus.
A club insider said ‘you could cut the atmosphere between Mourinho and Pogba with a knife’ at the Lowry before that game.
Pogba’s public comments have also caused alarm at United. Having said last month that he could not discuss his situation for fear of being fined, he appeared to criticise Mourinho by urging United to ‘attack, attack, attack’ after the draw with Wolves.
‘That’s Old Trafford,’ he added. ‘We are here to attack. Teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake today. We were winning 1-0 so it was positive for us. Then we tried to defend a bit more against the counter-attack. We stopped playing forward like in the first half and we didn’t really put them in trouble.
‘We are at Old Trafford and we should attack and press like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season. When we play like this it’s easier.’
Mourinho was angry after the Wolves game and has been critical of his players on both Monday and Tuesday in training.
In Tuesday night’s programme, he called the 1-1 draw an ‘important lesson, a lesson I repeat week after week, a lesson some boys are not learning. Every team that play Man Utd are playing the game of their lives. We need to match that aggression, motivation and desire, 95 per cent isn’t enough.’
Mourinho gave Pogba two days off after the game, having decided to rest him on Tuesday when Ashley Young was handed the captain’s armband.
But it is clear that relations between the two are at breaking point with Mourinho’s decision not to select the player as captain the clearest indication of displeasure.
Pogba has scored four goals in seven games this season — three from the penalty spot — but it has not changed his mind about leaving United two years after rejoining the club from Juventus for a then world record fee.