Antonio Conte hopes Jose Mourinho drops Paul Pogba against Chelsea
France superstar Pogba, who joined United in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee, started United’s last-16 Champions League clash at Sevilla on the bench.
Pogba is said to be unhappy with his role at Old Trafford and Mourinho has not been afraid to bench the 24-year-old since the turn of the new year.
Mourinho is a huge admirer of Scott McTominay and has praised his recent performances for United, but Conte has suggested that Pogba’s absence would be good news for his side.
‘We are talking about a top player, fantastic,’ Conte said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. ‘My expectation is to see him on the pitch, if he stays out it will be better [for us].
‘Every coach has to find the right way to manage him. Pogba is showing United that he is a top player. I must be honest my focus is on Chelsea.’
United were criticised after Wednesday’s goalless draw at Sevilla as the Spanish outfit were unfortunate not to secure a surprise victory.
Chelsea, meanwhile, earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Barcelona. Despite United’s indifferent form, Conte said: ‘United is always dangerous because the squad is very strong.
‘There are a lot of players, the squad if big and fantastic. This team is very physical, we must pay great attention because against United anything can happen, there is a risk to lose the game.’
Former Italy boss Conte also confirmed Olivier Giroud, who joined Chelsea from Arsenal on deadline day, was in contention to start for the reigning Premier League champions.
Both Giroud and club-record signing Alvaro Morata were benched for Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with Barca.
‘I think Olivier is working really well with us,’ Conte said. ‘I’m pleased because it seems like he’s been with us for a long time, not only two weeks.
‘He’s in contention, for sure, we will see what my final decision is.’