Wednesday 13 December 2017

Defiant Mourinho insists Pogba worth 'every penny' of £89m transfer fee

Man United’s £89m man Paul Pogba. Photo: PA
Man United’s £89m man Paul Pogba. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says Paul Pogba is worth every penny and deserves more respect for his meteoric rise into an £89m footballer.

Mourinho offered an impassioned defence of his midfielder, accusing retired players of jealousy in their critiques of his performances.

The United manager also said that Pogba "won't give a s***" about the negativity that has surrounded him since his return to Old Trafford.

"I feel that the world is losing values and we all know that, and envy is coming into certain levels so that I am scared, especially for the next generation, if things go in this direction," said Mourinho. "It is not Paul's fault that he gets 10 times the money some players did in the past.

"It is not his fault that some pundits are in real trouble with their lives and need every coin to survive and Paul is a multi- millionaire. It is not his fault.

"I think he deserves respect, I think his family deserves respect. He is from a working family, a family with three boys.

"I am sure they need a lot of food on their table each day because they are all giants. I am sure that the mum and dad had to work hard for many, many years for them.

"A kid that came to Manchester as a teenager, who fought for his career here and was not afraid to go to another country and look for better conditions for himself. A kid that reached the top of the world with this work, nobody gave him anything.

"So I am really, really worried with the previous generations that things are going in such a direction that envy is everywhere. I am very happy with Paul and the club is very happy with Paul.

"And because of his personality he doesn't give an 's' to what people say."

Mourinho was speaking ahead of tonight's match against FC Rostov at Old Trafford, the clubs having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie.

Preparation has not been ideal for United as they played Chelsea on Monday night and were unable to fly back from London, not returning to Manchester until 4am.

"We had one gift and we thought one gift was enough. We thought two was too much. And then came the third gift," said Mourinho.

"The first gift is to play Monday and then the next gift is (to play with) 10 men and then the third gift was to have a promenade on the M6, but we are professional so the next morning we were here to train.

"My players did what everybody could see on the Monday night and Tuesday at 12 o'clock they were here to train again as they are great professionals."

United will still be without the injured Wayne Rooney (knee) and Anthony Martial (despite him training yesterday) but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in line to start after missing the trip to Stamford Bridge through a domestic suspension.

Meanwhile, United are the latest big club to seriously monitor Celtic prodigy Moussa Dembele, and could well give Chelsea competition for his signature in the summer.

The 20-year-old French underage international has earned a lot of praise for his performances for the Scottish champions this season, as well as a lot of interest from top clubs who are now watching him more intent and more scrutiny.

Chelsea are understood to have been contemplating a bid at the end of the January window and, although manager Antonio Conte publicly denied they had made an offer at that point, they could well return in the summer.

Celtic would want at least £30m for Dembele, who has scored 32 goals in 45 games this season - including five in the Champions League - and their negotiating hand would be strengthened if United became involved.

Mourinho is re-assessing his striking options because it is far from certain that Antoine Griezmann will join United in the summer.

The Atletico Madrid star has actually been "deprioritised" as a target, having previously been their primary close-season objective, due to the difficulty of doing a deal.

Dembele would not be considered as a direct alternative to Griezmann but he is seen as someone who could contribute a lot of goals and energy to the team. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Manchester Utd v FC Rostov,

Live, BT Sport 2, 8.05

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