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Raphael Varane is in contention to make his Manchester United debut against Southampton this weekend
Raphael Varane is in contention to make his Manchester United debut against Southampton this weekend (Picture: Getty)

Micah Ricards has launched a passionate defence of Paul Pogba and claims Raphael Varane would not have signed for Manchester United were it not for the presence of his international teammate.

The enigmatic headed into the first game of the Premier League season amid mounting speculation surrounding his future, but delivered a masterclass in the 5-1 drubbing of Leeds, becoming the first United player to register four assists in a single Premier League game.

Richards, meanwhile, clashed with fellow Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness last week when the former Manchester City defender asked why the perception of Pogba differs from that of Harry Kane who has actively sought to leave Tottenham this summer.

Pogba, by contrast, has said little about his future and appears unaffected by the speculation that will naturally accompany a player with one year remaining on his current deal.

Richards feels the former Juventus star must, regardless of what he does next in his career, feel a certain amount of contentment at Old Trafford otherwise Varane would have chosen to wind down his own Real Madrid contract and join PSG on a free next summer.

‘It just feels now, though, that to an extent he will never be able to change people’s opinion of him, Richards told the Daily Mail. ‘It’s a shame, really, as everything I get told about him is that he is a diamond in the dressing room, loved by his team-mates and a big influence on situations.

Paul Pogba registered four assists in Manchester United's 5-1 win over Leeds last weekend
Paul Pogba registered four assists in Manchester United’s 5-1 win over Leeds last weekend (Picture: Getty)

‘Ask yourself this: would Raphael Varane have come to Manchester without speaking to Pogba? That would have been the first call Varane made when he was leaving Real Madrid – if Pogba had expressed any misgivings, you can imagine his compatriot would most likely have waited for Paris Saint-Germain.

‘Yes, there are questions about Pogba’s long-term future but has he done anything wrong? I’d argue not. He’s not personally spoken out against United, he’s not agitating. His display against Leeds never gave you a moment’s worry about him being committed to the team.

‘This isn’t like what is happening with Harry Kane and Tottenham – there was an explanation for Kane not returning back to training when he should have done but, even still, Kane has been vocal in making it clear he wants to go.

‘We find it hard to criticise Kane because he is perceived as a good lad – he’s been widely perceived as a saint in his career – but we can’t duck away from the fact he is taking on his club with whom he is under contract until 2024. What would have happened to Pogba if he had done this?’

MORE : Manchester United not expecting Paul Pogba to sign new contract despite huge offer

MORE : Paul Pogba to be offered mammoth contract to join PSG on free transfer from Manchester United

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Source: Metro Sport

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