The Warm-Up - Missing: Paul Pogba, Neymar and Daniel Sturridge’s dog
Have you seen Paul Pogba, Neymar or Daniel Sturridge’s dog? If so, contact the Warm-Up immediately (particularly if it’s the dog).
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Missing: Paul Pogba since 2016
Last sighting: Doing dabs alongside Glastonbury founder Stormzy in a promotional video
If spotted: Do not approach unless you have invented an elaborate handshake (suggested length: 15 seconds)
Three years have passed, £89 million spent, £290,000 weekly wages collected. And yet we’re no closer to seeing the real Paul Pogba at Manchester United.
Naturally, the killjoys will argue that he has actually pulled his weight at Old Trafford, citing that he topped all the important statistical charts last season. And he did:
But does anyone believe that he has come even close to fulfilling his potential? Congratulations for having more shots that Alexis Sanchez, have a certificate for winning more duels that comedy duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Pogba was re-recruited with a purpose: help restore United to their perch. He’s made them worse.
So why are we dragging this saga up again? Well, these comments from Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola on Talksport yesterday can’t be ignored:
"The player has done nothing wrong. He has been respectful and professional. The club has known his feeling for a long time. It is a shame other people only like to criticise without the right information, and I am also sorry that the club does not take any position against this."
And neither can these from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
"Paul's never put himself out of the team, always given his best and I can't report anything other than that agents talk all the time. I can't be sitting here talking about Paul and what agents are saying, we've got a few years left of his contract and he's been fantastic."
Pogba, despite his impressive penalty haul and ability to be fouled, contributed to this. Now, it’s lazy for the Warm-Up to question a player’s attitude… and we don’t need to. A spree of ex-United stars have done it already. Gary Neville has told him to "do one". Roy Keane claimed he "wouldn’t believe a word he says". Paul Scholes said he is living in his "own fantasy world". It's time for him to go.
Missing: Neymar since June
Last sighting: Setting off a party popper at his sister’s 23rd birthday party
If spotted: Establish rapport by falling over unexpectedly
Look, we know he's at a charity event. It's not easy to rearrange these things, even for a man whose name is literally in the title of the charity. Don't be so cynical. Neymar had no choice but to miss PSG training.
"The reason was known and planned for a year as part of his activities for the Neymar Institute," Neymar's dad told Fox Sports Brazil. "We couldn’t postpone them and he will return on 15 July."
That settles that. It's also widely known that Antoine Griezmann is occasionally forgetful, meaning it's hardly surprising that he missed the start of Atletico pre-season. And while we're on a clarification spree, we also know that it was just coincidence that Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele missed training in 2017 for Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
There is no suggestion whatsoever that the absences are linked to Barcelona. Nope. How dare you even think that.
Neymar is trying to give back to the world, making it better place for everyone. What are you all doing with your life? Turning up to work? Idiots.
Missing: Daniel Sturridge’s dog since Monday night
Last sighting: Before break-in at Sturridge’s house in Los Angeles
If spotted: Cuddle
Do you hate the corporate life? Want to earn lots of cash quickly? Happy to relocate to Hollywood for a few days?
Then get on a plane immediately to secure £30,000 minimum. All you have to do is find a cute dog called Lucci.
Enough fun and games, this story is obviously upsetting. Daniel Sturridge’s dog has gone missing after a break-in at his home, leading the distressed striker to issue the following statement:
"We will pay anything for the dog. Whoever brings my dog back, 20 grand, 30 grand, whatever."
Hold on... anything, you say?!
If the Warm-Up was into organised crime – sadly we’re not, aside from tilting the vending machine to get two Snickers for the price of one – we would turn up at a dog store in Sturridge masks, buy a lookalike Pomeranian and immediately take it to a dog stylist for added authenticity. We’re going to hell.
HEROES AND... HEROES
Hero I: Frank Lampard
Simply for rocking the stopwatch-note sheet combo on his first day leading training at Chelsea.
Frank Lampard's first day at trainingGetty Images
Hero II: Paul Parker
On this day in 1978 Tottenham signed two players from the World Cup-winning Argentina squad: Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. It prompted this glorious headline:
Some actual football! Senegal face Benin, while Nigeria meet South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
We'll be honest... we have no idea who's on tomorrow's Warm-Up. But whoever they are, we've heard rumours they won't show up. Something to do with a £30,000 minimum reward in Hollywood.