Former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo has told Red Devils director John Murtough to show no hesitation in offering Paul Pogba a new contract before the end of the season. The Frenchman’s future has been shrouded with uncertainty for a large part of the campaign after suggestions that he could be set to seek a new challenge upon the expiry of his current deal.
United parted ways with a club-record fee in order to land Pogba from Juventus in the summer of 2016.
Since returning to Old Trafford, the 28-year-old has established himself as an important cog in the midfield machine, popping up this season with a number of vital contributions.
Decisive goals against West Ham United, Burnley and Fulham have helped the Red Devils to gain a stronghold on second place in the Premier League table.
Pogba was also on target against AC Milan in last month’s Europa League round of 16 second-leg clash, scoring the winner to revitalise his side’s hopes of continental glory before the end of the season.
The playmaker produced another stunning performance in the middle of the park on Sunday, with United coming from behind to take all three points against Tottenham on away turf.
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Despite his role as one of United’s best players, the World Cup winner is only under contract until the end of next season.
Juventus have been linked with a summer move to sign their former midfielder, while Real Madrid have also been mentioned in connection with his services in recent months.
Ighalo, who joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab in February, has stressed that Pogba is too important for United to risk losing him this summer or on a free transfer in a year’s time.
The Nigeria international told Sky Sports that the Red Devils should take the opportunity to tie Pogba down to a long-term contract before he is snapped up by another club.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve played with and one of the best players at Manchester United,” said Ighalo. “Apart from playing on the pitch, he’s a good guy in the dressing room, a funny guy, he’s always happy.
“The only time he isn’t happy is when he’s not playing and I can understand that – everyone wants to play.
“If Manchester United have the opportunity to keep him on a new, longer deal, they should because he is so influential.
“Sometimes he doesn’t have the best of games, but that’s normal, you can’t be 100% in every game. But when he turns up, like he did yesterday against Tottenham, he is exceptional.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed in January that he retains an open and honest dialogue with Pogba, after the player’s agent Mino Raiola declared that his client was unhappy and hoping for a move away from Old Trafford in the near future.
“Paul’s job is to get himself fit and play football,” Solskjaer told reporters. “My job is to be open and honest with him and give him my advice and I’ve never had a problem with him.
“I talk openly and directly with Paul. I’m not going to tell anyone what my advice to him is but I have always had a good relationship with him.
“He comes from a great family, he’s very understandable, he’s a very sensible boy and he knows what I’m talking about when we speak.
“He’s upfront and honest with me too. And what people don’t see with Paul is even when he isn’t playing he’s contributed loads in the background.
“Sometimes he’s even acted as the interpreter, even when he isn’t playing. He always respects my decisions and we’ve always had a very good working relationship.”