Paul Pogba has been stripped of Manchester United captaincy duties after telling Jose Mourinho he wants to join Barcelona.
The France midfielder has led United three times this season, but Mourinho believes it is no longer acceptable for a player pushing for a move to wear the armband.
The squad were told of the decision at their Carrington training base hours before the Carabao Cup defeat by Derby. Pogba watched from the stands as his team-mates were hit by a cup giantkilling.
‘The only truth is that I made the decision for Paul not to be the second captain any more,’ said Mourinho. ‘It was the same person who decided Paul was the second captain. No fallout at all, just decisions I do not have to explain.’
Sportsmail understands that Pogba’s desire to leave Old Trafford was the reason behind Mourinho’s decision to strip the club’s £89million record signing of captaincy duties.
Pogba has skippered United on three occasions this season, but Mourinho decided that it was no longer acceptable for a player pushing for a move to wear the armband amid concerns over the 25-year-old’s attitude.
They were unhappy that the midfielder was playing loud music on the top deck of the team bus on the way to Saturday’s game against Wolves at Old Trafford when they felt there should have been a quieter focus on the match. Pogba has also raised eyebrows by reporting for duty at the team’s Lowry Hotel base in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce this season.
He was driven away from Burnley and straight to the airport to join up with the France squad after United’s win at Turf Moor earlier this month, while the rest of his team-mates went on the bus.
A club insider said ‘you could cut the atmosphere between Mourinho and Pogba with a knife’ at the Lowry before that game.
Pogba’s public comments have also caused alarm at United. Having said last month that he could not discuss his situation for fear of being fined, he appeared to criticise Mourinho by urging United to ‘attack, attack, attack’ after the draw with Wolves.
‘That’s Old Trafford,’ he added. ‘We are here to attack. Teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake today. We were winning 1-0 so it was positive for us. Then we tried to defend a bit more against the counter-attack. We stopped playing forward like in the first half and we didn’t really put them in trouble.
‘We are at Old Trafford and we should attack and press like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season. When we play like this it’s easier.’
Mourinho was angry after the Wolves game and has been critical of his players on both Monday and Tuesday in training.
In Tuesday night’s programme, he called the 1-1 draw an ‘important lesson, a lesson I repeat week after week, a lesson some boys are not learning. Every team that play Man Utd are playing the game of their lives. We need to match that aggression, motivation and desire, 95 per cent isn’t enough.’
Mourinho gave Pogba two days off after the game, having decided to rest him on Tuesday night when Ashley Young was handed the captain’s armband.
But it is clear that relations between the two are at breaking point with Mourinho’s decision not to select the player as captain the clearest indication of displeasure.
Pogba has scored four goals in seven games this season — three from the penalty spot — but it has not changed his mind about leaving United two years after rejoining the club from Juventus for a then world record fee.