In his first press conference as Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho outlined his plans for next season’s title challenge. Paul Pogba appears to be the missing piece of the puzzle in Jose’s masterplan, though it is now understood that he will only join Manchester United as sloppy seconds if his first choice of Real Madrid proves impossible.
Discussing his dealings in the summer transfer market, Mourinho expects to have made four transfers by the end of the window, looking to aggressively revamp the spine of United’s team. Pogba appears to be the elusive fourth signing, with Jose Mourinho’s hopes of securing the France midfielder riding on his ability to outbid his former club and meet the player’s considerable wage demand of €300,000 (£250,000) a week.
Juventus have stated that they do not want to lose the in-demand Frenchman, but with two of the biggest clubs in the world chasing the midfielder’s signature, it seems inevitable that he will depart for either Real Madrid or Manchester United, this summer.
Both clubs would have to topple Juventus’s minimum valuation figure of €100m (£84m) in the first instance, but from that point onwards it would be an all out bidding war between Mourinho and his former Spanish employer.
Money really isn’t the issue for Manchester United. Both clubs are footballing heavyweights and have the necessary funds to hike Pogba’s transfer fee up to astronomical levels. If United want to outbid Madrid then they can, but a superior transfer fee alone will not be enough for Mourinho to secure Pogba’s services. Pogba has reportedly revealed a preference to play for the European champions rather than for United, who face another season without Champions League football.
That fact alone says it all really. Pogba, as a potential Ballon d’Or winner, would be taking a huge step backwards by choosing United over Real Madrid. Pogba would obviously rather stay at Juventus or join some of the worlds biggest names at the Bernabeu, rather than opting for the last resort of playing in the Europa League with Manchester United.
Mourinho’s one saving grace might be his pre-established relationship with hope agreeing to Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, though the Dutch agent doesn’t have the greatest of reputations at Old Trafford.
Raiola played a pivotal role in Pogba’s departure from Manchester United in 2012. Sir Alex Ferguson actively blamed Raiola for United losing Pogba. Recalling in his autobiography:
“There are one or two football agents I simply do not like and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, is one of them. I distrusted him from the moment I met him.
“We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco.
“He and I were like oil and water. From then on our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
Mourinho however, has nothing but positive experiences with Raiola – it was the Dutch agent who brokered the deal for Jose’s signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is also a client, on a free transfer. He is also set to seal the transfer of Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, another player he represents.
Mourinho and United’s hopes rest in the strength of the professional relationship with Raiola, who apparently suggested Pogba may be better suited by a return to United rather than a move to Madrid. Despite his agent’s opinion, it’s hard to see how Pogba will come to that conclusion himself without some clever whispering in the Frenchman’s ear – if Madrid are serious about signing the Juventus man, surely there is only one possible outcome.