Twelve months ago, Paul Pogba privately requested to leave Manchester United and got nowhere. He wanted to join Barcelona only to be told his sale would not be entertained. A year on, the France midfielder seems to have resolved that his best chance - perhaps only chance - of securing a transfer from Old Trafford this summer is to take the situation public.
By agitating for a move, he will hope to force United’s hand. It is a tactic that has worked for other players in the past and it is one neither Real Madrid nor Juventus would discourage, not if it helps to drive down Pogba’s exorbitant £160 million valuation.
Quite how big a fuss Pogba is prepared to kick up, quite how much of a stink he is willing to make, remains to be seen but the clock is ticking and, with United still insistent that the midfielder will be playing for them next season, the ball is back in the player’s court.
There are just 53 days until the Premier League transfer window closes and, if one bears in mind how long it took United to agree an £89m deal with Juventus for the midfielder three years ago, when there was a willingness on behalf of both clubs and the player to do a deal, it is clear that it is not a lot of time at all when there are still so many complicating factors.
How could Real, who have already committed close to £300m in transfer fees this summer, possibly expect to fund a £160m deal for Pogba, given their financial outlook, unless players are offered in return? Would United - who have distanced themselves from a move for Gareth Bale - realistically want any players Real might offer?
With Pogba preferring a switch to Spain, would he hold out for a move to Real over a return to old club Juventus, who might also need to offer players in return to meet his sky-high cost? And all that assumes United are prepared to back down and sell when, financially, they are in the strongest position of the lot.
At the very least, though, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to be weighing up the risks of keeping an unhappy, high-profile player against his will and the problems that, in turn, could cause in the dressing room or for the club next season. Pogba has struggled for his best form at United even when his head is in the right place. What sort of Pogba would United be getting next season if he so clearly wants out?
The United manager has talked repeatedly about wanting hungry players with the right attitude who, crucially, want to play for the club. Pogba now stands at odds with that position. He has his sights set elsewhere. Yet there are other considerations, too. With Marouane Fellaini having left in January, Ander Herrera joining Paris St-Germain and Juan Mata out of contract this summer and still to agree a new contract, Solskjaer was pursuing two new midfielders regardless of the Pogba situation. If Pogba went, would he need three? Then again, no-one said a huge rebuilding job would be without its difficulties and, more than anything, it is imperative Solskjaer assembles a squad with the right foundations as he bids to make United competitive again. Trying to build a team around a player eyeing the exit door would be a perilous exercise.