Paul Pogba may have to wait another 12 to 18 months to leave Manchester United due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Gary Neville.
Speculation has regularly linked the World Cup winner, who has been restricted to five Premier League starts this season because of injuries, with a move away from Old Trafford.
Real Madrid and former team Juventus have been among those credited with an interest in signing Pogba, whose up-and-down form has been the subject of almost constant debate.
United have resisted selling the 27-year-old up to now and Neville thinks the COVID-19 crisis will make it even harder for a buyer to meet the demands of the player and club.
“The direction of Pogba’s career all season was always facing away from Manchester – there was so much speculation and his agent was coming out all the time,” former United captain Neville said to Sky Sports.
“Now with what’s happened, coronavirus and the economic reset in football, what clubs are going to be able to buy Paul Pogba for the reputed £80million, £100million fees that were being thrown around?
“Which clubs are going to be paying the huge wages he’s on at Manchester United?
“I’m not diminishing him as a player, I’m just talking about the economic situation the whole world finds itself in.
“Paul Pogba may have to, and may want to, sit at Manchester United for the next 12 to 18 months.
“And [he may] look at the fact he’s at a club he can play with Bruno Fernandes, with Fred, with [Scott] McTominay, with [Nemanja] Matic, [Harry] Maguire, [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, [David] de Gea in goal.
“And then you have got Mason Greenwood, [Anthony] Martial and [Marcus] Rashford up front.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 8, 2020
Neville also thinks the coronavirus crisis hands United an advantage in the transfer market and boosts their hopes of competing for next season’s Premier League.
“If we hadn’t had this virus, I think Manchester United could’ve been two or three years away,” he said, with Neville’s old side sat fifth in the table when fixtures were halted.
“If a top player in Europe had the choice of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, all those clubs, United would likely lose out because of where they are in the cycle of the team.
“I think now, out of those eight clubs, six of them could be completely redundant in the transfer market in terms of spending £60million, £80million. Manchester United’s ability will still be there.
“United still need to add a few players of really high quality, and they are in a position to be able to capitalise this summer in the transfer market.
“I feel a little more confident in Manchester United’s ability to challenge next season just because of what’s happened, and the fact they started to play a lot better before this lockdown.”