Paul Pogba has become the highest-profile footballer to contract coronavirus, with the Premier League heading for chaos a fortnight before the new season.
The central midfielder was omitted from the France squad after testing positive alongside Tottenham’s Tanguy Ndombele on arrival at the camp.
Pogba, who has spent the off-season with family and friends in London, is understood to have been symptomatic and there are concerns he may miss the birth of his second child.
The 27-year-old must now self-isolate for at least 10 days and will be an absentee when Manchester United begin pre-season training.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team are due to report back at Carrington on Wednesday and the manager’s preparations have been significantly affected by a troubling week at Old Trafford.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka will miss the start of training because he needs to self-isolate for two weeks on his return from a holiday to Dubai.
United’s first Premier League match is scheduled against Crystal Palace on September 19 but Solskjaer is faced with issues to contend with — not least the circumstances surrounding Harry Maguire’s holiday and subsequent 21-month suspended prison sentence after an altercation on the Greek island of Mykonos. Pogba’s positive test was the latest in a string of complications for the United boss.
France manager Didier Deschamps broke the news on Thursday when he said: ‘I’ve completed, at the very last minute, a change in the list. Paul Pogba was on the list but unfortunately for him he carried out a test yesterday which was returned as positive this morning.’
United said in a statement: ‘Everybody at United wishes him a speedy recovery ahead of the new season.’
The club maintained that all players will abide by Government regulations surrounding Covid-19, including quarantine periods if necessary.
United are confident that those stars who travelled back to their home countries not on the travel corridor list can return to Manchester as normal following the international break.
Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelof are thought to have spent time in Serbia, France and Sweden respectively before linking up with their national sides. But the elite sport exemption is believed to kick in once they enter the bubble of their national teams.
The news of Pogba’s positive test came after a Covid-19 outbreak at Chelsea had emerged, with six players returning positive results and a further two in quarantine.
Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Fikayo Tomori are all understood to be in self-isolation.
The Premier League have no concerns surrounding the new campaign starting on September 12 as planned but the increased number of positive results will be a worry for them.