Paul Pogba met with Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane – fuelling fresh speculation over the Manchester United star’s future.
Pogba and Zidane – both World Cup winners with France – chatted by a pool in Dubai after meeting up during the international break.
United star Pogba, who will miss Sunday’s clash with Premier League leaders Liverpool with an ankle injury, has been recuperating in the Middle East during the break in the domestic schedule.
Zidane wanted to sign £89million star Pogba in the summer, but United rebuffed Real’s interest in the midfielder, insisting the 26-year-old was not for sale.
Pogba’s controversial agent, Mino Raiola, declared Pogba’s desire to leave United, with the player himself admitting it may be time for “a new challenge”.
But United stood firm in the face of Real’s efforts to sign their star player, who still has two years plus the option of an extra 12 months on his current contract.
Pogba has been in Dubai during the international break, after being left out of the France squad due to injury.
The ex-Juventus star missed five of United’s last seven games and will again be missing against the league leaders.
Real Madrid boss Zidane was in the Middle East speaking at a conference relating to the integration of Artificial Intelligence in the sports industry.
The three-time Champions League-winning coach was one of the star attractions at the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sports (DAIS) exhibition.
Zidane has made no secret of his desire to take Pogba to the Santiago Bernabeu and pursued a summer switch – only to fail to convince Florentino Perez to spend big on the midfielder.
The Madrid supremo preferred to move for Christian Eriksen in the summer, with the Spurs midfielder cheaper amid a contract in its final year.
Perez enquired about Eriksen over dinner with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy ahead of the Champions League Final, but was told he had no intention of selling.
But Zidane was uninterested in the Dane and ultimately didn’t get his Pogba wish either.
However, with United struggling in the Premier League, just two points above the relegation zone, Pogba is set to push for a move again next summer – with Real his likeliest destination.