Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

Pogba in line for Euro debut -- with a little help from Ferdinand

Mark Ogden

ALEX FERGUSON is considering handing Paul Pogba a European debut for Manchester United against Ajax tomorrow after revealing that Rio Ferdinand is leading the club's attempts to persuade the French youngster to banish concerns over his Old Trafford future.

Having criticised the 18-year-old's representatives recently and urged Pogba to "look round him to realise the rewards that could lie ahead of him at United", Ferguson is understood to be ready to step up the midfielder's development by involving him against the Dutch champions, who trail 2-0 from last week's Europa League round-of-32 first leg in Amsterdam.

With contract talks ongoing, Ferguson admits that the influence of Ferdinand could be a key factor in Pogba's decision on his future.

"Rio has become an important figure at the club," Ferguson said. "He is good with the players -- he is good with the young players."

Greater Manchester Police are to increase patrols in the city ahead of the Ajax game with 1,000 Dutch supporters expected to travel without tickets. Ajax have been given an allocation of 3,900 tickets.


Meanwhile, United are bracing themselves for a massive dip in media revenues following their exit from the Champions League.

While the club were able to confirm growth in all areas when they announced second-quarter results yesterday, they also know the effect of being dumped into the Europa League is still to be felt.

It is estimated they will lose approximately £3m per round in prize-money alone by being in UEFA's secondary competition.

However, while they acknowledge revenues will dip, United insist that will have no impact on the manager's ability to compete in the transfer market.

Ferguson has consistently argued he will not pay over the odds for players and refused to splash out the huge amount of money it would have cost to take Wesley Sneijder to Old Trafford from Inter Milan last summer after previously missing out on alternative targets Luka Modric and Samir Nasri.

This stance cuts little ice with critics of the Glazer ownership at United, though. They have noted a further buyback of the £500m bond issue, meaning the debt has now been reduced by £92.8m -- more than the £80m received from Real Madrid in 2009 for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.

• Wolves are ready to step up their interest in Reading manager Brian McDermott today and are also targeting the club's highly regarded director of football Nick Hammond.

• Stoke defender Rory Delap has won his appeal against the red card he received in last Sunday's FA Cup win over Crawley. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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