That’s the belief of Sky Sports transfer reporter Kaveh Solhekol.
The France midfielder has been linked with a move to Real Madrid all summer since saying in June that it might be the right time to seek a new challenge after three years at Old Trafford.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is however determined to keep Pogba and the Red Devils are said to want a minimum of £150million for their club-record signing.
Real Madrid made a first official offer for the World Cup winner at the weekend of €30m (£27.6m) plus outcast James Rodriguez, which was flatly rejected by United.
Los Blancos have already spent in the region of £250m this summer to bring Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodryo Goes and Eder Militao to the Bernabeu.
And that has left them strapped for cash as Zinedine Zidane seeks an agreement to bring Pogba to the Spanish capital, having long admired his countryman’s talents.
But Solhekol insists there is only one way that Madrid could afford to finance such a big-money move, which would be to offload Gareth Bale.
The Welshman nearly moved to China last month only for a £1million-a-week move to break down after it emerged Jiangsu Suning had no plans to give Real a transfer fee to take Bale off the La Liga outfit’s hands.
“It was a ridiculous bid, I don’t think Manchester United would have taken it seriously,” Solhekol said on Sky Sports’ Transfer Show.
“It’s something they would have laughed off.
“Maybe Real Madrid were just testing the water with it to see what Manchester United would do.
“But Manchester United have made it very clear he is not for sale and secondly if they were to sell him he would cost £150m.
“Offering James Rodriguez and €30m tells you that Real Madrid cannot afford Paul Pogba.
“They’ve spent too much money already this summer, around £250m, and the only way they could afford him is if they sell Gareth Bale.”
Madrid face a race against time if they are to sign Pogba, as United would be even more reluctant to sell the player after the transfer window for Premier League clubs shuts on Thursday (5pm) even if their price tag is met.
Speaking after United’s final pre-season friendly on Saturday, Solskjaer revealed his confidence that Pogba – who was absent for the penalty shoot-out win over AC Milan in Cardiff – is still happy at the club.
“I have no doubts at all [that Paul Pogba wants to play at Manchester United],” the Norwegian said.
“He’ll probably be back training early next week, it’s not an injury but just some pain.
“I wasn’t going to risk anything this weekend; he should be okay for Chelsea.”
United take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Old Trafford in their opening game of the new Premier League season on Sunday (4.30pm).