Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Luke Shaw will be handed a new contract by Manchester United and laughed off the recent debate over Paul Pogba's best position, stating that it is "difficult to play a midfielder with more potential".
Left-back Shaw previously looked destined to depart Old Trafford after enduring a fractious relationship with Mourinho and being publicly criticised by his manager on more than one occasion in addition to suffering numerous injury setbacks that hampered his progress following a high-profile £27m ($37.2m) move from Southampton in 2014.
The 22-year-old went 219 days without starting a first-team match before impressing in the 2-1 Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow in December and now finally appears to have won Mourinho's trust, playing nine times since then and in five of seven matches so far in 2018.
Such a resurgence led to speculation - including from The Mirror - that Shaw would be offered a long-term extension to an £80,000-a-week contract that still has 18 months left to run after the club exercised their option to extend it by a further 12 months last year.
Addressing those rumours in a press conference held before the Premier League trip to Newcastle United on Sunday (11 February), Mourinho claimed that a fresh deal was the "natural consequence" of his comeback and stated that the England international would be a United player for years to come.
"With Luke it is not about changing my mind," he told reporters, as relayed by the Manchester Evening News. "With Luke it's just the evolution or no evolution of his potential like I think you say, fulfilling his potential. It's just about that. Because I know Shaw since he arrived in the Premier League with Southampton and I know his potential, his quality.
"Could he come in my direction in the way I think football and the way I like my players to be? Not just on the pitch but also during the training week and he made a big effort. He's now for a few months freer of his minor injuries that sometimes stop evolution and I'm really happy so I think the natural consequence of it is that he will have his contract and he will be a Manchester United player for years."
There has been plenty of discussion over record signing Pogba's role this week after he was substituted following a disappointing display in the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur - the first time that has happened in a league game since he returned to Old Trafford in 2016 - and replaced by young Scott McTominay for a subsequent win over Huddersfield Town, playing only 25 minutes from the bench.
"Paul as I was saying had a very professional behaviour and the week was not different and no different to what Paul is every week," Mourinho said, per MEN.
"Paul is a good professional. Paul works well. Paul likes to train. I never had a single problem with regard to his professionalism because he is a really good trainer. He's one of the guys who likes to train and enjoy to train."
Several pundits and ex-players have had their say on how Pogba should be deployed and what midfield set-up best complements his obvious qualities, though Mourinho said he "had a few laughs" and "got a little bit confused" by certain people's changing definition of a box-to-box midfielder.
"Paul is a midfield player," he reiterated. "It depends on tactical system. He can play with one, two, three, he will always be a midfield player. It doesn't matter which tactical system [the] team plays. There are so many opinions and we are in the world of opinions and people can get a little bit confused but between me and Paul there is no confusions. Paul is a midfield player and it is difficult to find a midfield player with more potential."