Friday 15 December 2017

Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind head for exit in Manchester United clear-out

Mata, Young and Memphis also in firing line as Mourinho gets ready to trim bloated squad

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Jason Burt

Jose Mourinho will turn his attention to clearing out unwanted players and slimming down his squad now that Manchester United are poised finally to announce the signing of Paul Pogba for a world-record fee.

The manager will then target a commanding central defender as he continues his rebuild.

Mourinho's list of players who can go is headed by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has been cut from the first team, but also still includes defenders Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind and midfielder Juan Mata, who was substituted despite coming off the bench during Sunday's Community Shield victory over Leicester City.

In saying that, Mourinho is prepared to keep Mata and also Blind and Rojo if he has to. Schweinsteiger has no future at the club.


There are also question marks over senior players who did not make the squad for Wembley including Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian and Memphis Depay, while a host of young players headed by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, James Wilson, Paddy McNair, Andreas Pereira and Will Keane are expected to go out on loan.

Mourinho, who has control of transfers at the club, would like to sell Adnan Januzaj but is calm about United's dealings and, above all, delighted that his four key targets have all been landed.

United are due to announce today that Pogba has become the fourth and final of Mourinho's "fundamental" signings as he creates a new spine for his team after bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly.

Pogba flew into Manchester yesterday and passed a medical.

The fee being paid for the 23-year-old is a world-record ¤105m (£89.2m), beating the previous record of ¤101m (£85.8m) set when Real Madrid bought Gareth Bale from Tottenham in 2013.

The only add-on that is known about in Pogba's contract is a payment of ¤5m (£4.25m) which the player will receive should he agree a new deal within the five years of the initial contract.

Significantly, though, the fee is not thought to include a payment to Pogba's agent Mino Raiola - who also brought Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan to Old Trafford - and who has been demanding a minimum of ¤10m (£8.5m) commission in negotiations. Pogba's salary is believed to be around ¤12m (£10m) a season.

Juventus have got an astonishing return on a player for whom they paid just ¤280,000 (£238,000) in development fees to United when he left for Italy in 2012 after turning down a new contract.

United have been in talks, since David Moyes succeeded Alex Ferguson as manager, to bring Pogba back but it was initially believed the France international - who Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid have also held discussions about signing at various stages in the past two summers - was reluctant to go back while the fee continued to rise.

Real dropped out of the bidding this summer once it passed £60m, with Juventus insisting - as they did last year - that they would not accept less than ¤100m.

Pogba will provide the power and athleticism that Mourinho believes is lacking from United's midfield and the manager will now return to reshaping United's defence where, in particular, he will look for an experienced centre-half to compete with Bailly and Chris Smalling for a first-team place.

Mourinho is also prepared to work with Phil Jones, despite United receiving inquiries about the defender, but is concerned the team still lack a strong defensive leader to help develop the promising Bailly, in particular, and a young left-back in Luke Shaw.

United have long been linked with Zenit St Petersburg's Ezequiel Garay and Mourinho could return for the 29-year-old Argentinian, while it is known that Juventus value Leonardo Bonucci at £50m and may be prepared to sell the Italy international.

United will not want to pay anywhere close to that amount, so that deal looks unlikely, and will look for a more reasonably priced option as the player may not be an automatic first choice.


It is also possible that, depending on who he moves on, Mourinho will look at bringing in another right-back with there being undoubted substance to claims he is interested in Fabinho, although Monaco may be more reluctant to sell the 22-year-old Brazilian if they reach the Champions League group stages.

At his unveiling as United manager Mourinho offered a strong explanation as to how he will now approach the rest of the transfer window when he said "we will all breathe" once he brought in his "fourth" fundamental signing i.e. Pogba.

Now that has happened he will take stock before exploring what is possible during the rest of August.

Ideally Mourinho would want a squad of 20 outfield players plus three goalkeepers but United are way over that total. However, he is prepared to carry a larger squad this season because of the involvement in the Europa League and because the team is being rebuilt. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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