Wednesday 7 December 2016

Manchester United could smash world record transfer fee to sign Paul Pogba

Luke Edwards

Published 04/07/2016 | 18:14

France's Paul Pogba is one of the most sought-after players on the planet
France's Paul Pogba is one of the most sought-after players on the planet

Jose Mourinho has made the signing of France international midfielder Paul Pogba his top priority as Manchester United manager and his new club are prepared to shatter the world record transfer fee to bring the player to Old Trafford.

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Mourinho spent a portion of his first day as United manager discussing transfer targets with chief executive Ed Woodward and stressed that Pogba is the player he is desperate to land.

That is expected to lead to an official offer being made to Juventus, which could be as much as £100m, although negotiations are likely to be delayed by the player’s continued involvement in the European Championship.

United know they will have to do something special to beat Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as Manchester City, in the race to sign the 23-year-old and hope the size of their bid will deter their rivals from competing for his signature.

Pogba’s return to Old Trafford will be seen as a coup, albeit a hugely expensive one given they allowed the player to leave, rather than meet his wage demands for a new contract, four years ago when Sir Alex Ferguson was manager.

There is a growing confidence that Pogba will return to United, although officials are wary of being used in an attempt to drive up the asking price.

United were played during Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos’ contract negotiations at Real Madrid and their interest has also been used by Neymar’s representatives  over the last 12 months to get a new deal at Barcelona.

However, Pogba is set to leave Juventus this summer and United know the size of the bid is the most important thing if they are going to win the race to sign him.

City have the resources to match their bid, although new manager Pep Guardiola has not pushed as hard to sign the player.

Barcelona and Real Madrid could also worry the United hierarchy, but they were both ordered to repay millions of pounds in illegal state aid by the European Commission on Monday following an investigation into the financial help they have received from the Spanish government. As a result, they are unlikely to be able to outbid United on this occasion.

Another pressing matter for Mourinho to contend with this week is the future of United midfielder Juan Mata.

The Spaniard was sold to United by Mourinho in January 2014 and the pair will have a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday, to discuss  whether he is going to remain at the club. Everton are preparing to bid for the 28-year-old if, as expected, he is told he can leave.

United are also closing in on Mexico international striker Hirving Lozano, who is set to move to England once he has played for his country in the Rio Olympics. The 20-year-old Pachuca forward has seven senior caps, but has been asked to help Mexico defend the gold medal they won in London in 2012.

There was some cause for concern for Mourinho during his first day at the training ground following reports defender Chris Smalling had collapsed on holiday in Bali and had been taken to hospital.

Initial reports suggested the centre-back may have been stung by a jelly fish, although it later emerged he had food poisoning.

“Manchester United can clarify Chris Smalling has had food poisoning during his holiday which resulted in him fainting on Sunday, United said in an official statement. “The 26-year-old defender was taken to the hospital and is now feeling fine.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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