Manchester United's kit sponsor Adidas are putting the screws on the club to hold onto Paul Pogba this summer, due to concerns over the damage his departure could do to their worldwide brand.
The Frenchman has endured a difficult season at club level despite something of a renaissance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the beginning of his tenure, but remains one of the most recognisable stars in the world. As one of adidas' elite athletes, he is the promotional face of the club as far as the sponsors are concerned.
According to the Mirror, the kit manufacturer are doing all they can to dissuade the Old Trafford side from selling up, feeling that if Pogba leaves, it would be a marketing disaster due to the lack of other 'worldwide stars' within the ranks.
David de Gea would be an option, but his ongoing contract dispute means he may leave in the foreseeable future, so adidas - who are four years into a 10-year-deal worth £750m with United - would likely seek assurances over a high-profile Pogba replacement if he was to leave.
it's easy to see where their concerns over his departure come from, as it was at their promotional event in Tokyo last week that he admitted it could be time for a 'new challenge.'
“For me I have been for three years in Manchester and have been doing great; some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody. Like everywhere else," he said.
“After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well. I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else.”
At present, a Juventus return looks most likely if he is to leave the Premier League, with further reports stating that he has personally endeavoured to return to the Serie A champions.