Tuesday 6 December 2016

United line up record Pogba swoop after Zlatan commits

Jason Burt and John Percy

Published 01/07/2016 | 02:30

Manchester United now have a clear run at signing Paul Pogba if they can agree a deal with Italian champions Juventus. Picture credit: Reuters
Manchester United now have a clear run at signing Paul Pogba if they can agree a deal with Italian champions Juventus. Picture credit: Reuters

Manchester United are due to complete the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic today and are stepping up their efforts to sign Paul Pogba, with more talks expected next week with Juventus.

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A deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also close to being confirmed.

Ibrahimovic finally announced on social media yesterday that he was joining United after being released by Paris St-Germain. His contract at the French club formally expires today.

“Time to let the world know. My next destination is Manchester United,” the striker wrote on Instagram.

The announcement caught United by surprise, as the 34-year-old striker has not formally signed the contract that is on the table – a deal of one year with an option for a 12-month extension – or completed a medical.

There were strong suggestions last night that the Swede would fly into Manchester today with his agent Mino Raiola, who is also conducting the deals for Pogba and Mkhitaryan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed that he is joining Manchester United. Picture credit: PA News
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed that he is joining Manchester United. Picture credit: PA News

United have already signed Ivory Coast central defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal for £30.4m as new manager Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan, steps up his wholesale rebuilding plans.

It appears that United now also have a clear run at signing Pogba if they can agree a deal with Italian champions Juventus. Real Madrid, it is understood, have, along with Manchester City, stepped aside because of the fees being demanded for the 23-year-old midfielder.

Real were prepared to go as high as £60m for Pogba but sources close to Juventus said that United had already offered £80m for the Frenchman, who was on the books at Old Trafford before walking out in 2012.

It appears that United may even be prepared to go substantially higher to secure the Frenchman, which would mean breaking the world transfer record set when Gareth Bale signed for Real for £86m. Pogba is believed to be content to stay at  Juve but the club may feel United’s offer is too good to refuse.

Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to sign for Manchester United. Picture credit: Getty Images
Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to sign for Manchester United. Picture credit: Getty Images

Indeed, there were suggestions that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will fly back out to Turin next week by which time the club also hope that Borussia Dortmund will have accepted their bid of £31.7m, plus add-ons, for 27-year-old attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan.

A four-year deal has been offered for Mkhitaryan, who has one more year left on his contract at Dortmund and has made it clear that he wants to leave and join United.

The German club want the situation resolved before they return to pre-season training on Monday.

United are increasingly confident the Armenia international will sign. So confident that it appeared United were advertising the sale of shirts with Mkhitaryan's name on the back on their online club shop.

Mourinho appears to be heading towards a new forward line of Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial either side of Ibrahimovic, with Wayne Rooney's future in midfield along with Pogba, who left the club on a free transfer in 2012 because he was frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities.

Although Ibrahimovic is signing on a free transfer, after being released by PSG, he has been asking for wages of up to £250,000 a week and United have come close enough in meeting those demands to satisfy him.

Ibrahimovic has won a trophy every season of his career since 2001, including an incredible 13 league titles, and his former clubs also include Juventus, Barcelona and AC Milan. There is no doubting his talent, charisma and pedigree, but it will be fascinating to see whether, given his age, he can cope with the demands of the Premier League.

Ibrahimovic has turned down several offers to move to United - including an astonishing £1m-a-week deal to play in the Chinese Super League. He is expected to move to the United States to play in Major League Soccer when his time at United ends.

If Pogba and Mkhitaryan sign for the mooted fees - £80m (and possibly more) and close to £32m - then with the fee paid for Bailly it means that United will have spent more than £140m already this summer.

Mourinho is also keen to get all his transfer targets secured early so he can hit the ground running with the Community Shield against champions Leicester City on August 7.

Independent News Service

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