Saturday 20 January 2018

Paul Pogba will make £89m Man United move look cheap - Jose Mourinho

Manchester United's Paul Pogba
Manchester United's Paul Pogba

Mike Whalley

Paul Pogba’s world-record transfer to Manchester Unitedis already money well spent, according to his manager, Jose Mourinho, who claims that it is only a matter of time before the £89.3 million investment in the French international last summer will appear “cheap”.

The 23-year-old turned in another impressive performance in United’s 3-0 Europa League win over St-Étienne in midweek to earn further praise from his manager who longs for Pogba to rid himself of the title of the world’s most expensive player he earned when he arrived from Juventus.

“I think he has phenomenal conditions but I think the scrutiny on him is hard, is difficult,” said Mourinho. “But that’s the price of being who he is and is also the price of his price.

“I am pretty sure that next summer some players with only half his quality probably will cost the same money or more so I am waiting for that moment to release him from the scrutiny.

“I think in a couple of years you will realise he was cheap but I have to admit that not many clubs have this vision of anticipation of what can happen in the near future.

“A few years ago £25 million was a phenomenal player. Today, £25 million is not even a player, it is a prospect of a player. Now, if you want to buy a good prospect, a good 20-year-old player who can be fantastic, you are paying as if the player is already a big player.

“I think next summer can bring a few surprises at this level and probably Paul will lose this status as the world’s most expensive player, which will probably be a good thing.”

Pogba’s display against the French side, featuring brother Florent, in midweek included him striking the crossbar, the eighth time this season that the seven-goal midfielder has been denied by woodwork.

“He gave us an incredible balance, recovering the ball, starting the building up from the back was really impressive and at the top of the pitch he is a guy that can score goals,” said Mourinho. “Imagine the eight posts and it would be an amazing record. So, you know, step by step – still very, very young, he can be fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Mourinho insists that England left-back Luke Shaw still has a future under him at Old Trafford despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Shaw, 21, bounced back from a career-threatening double leg break last season only to struggle to find regular football under the new manager.

“He had a very ugly injury, really, really ugly,” said Mourinho, refuting rumours that Shaw could be sold this summer. “Not just from the physical point of view, but also by the mental impact. So this season he has had a couple of small injuries and he needs to adapt. He knows what I like in a defender, he knows that I like stability, that I don’t like mistakes, that for me it is to trust a player totally and he has to work to get it.

“And when he is on the pitch again he has to try to give me that step by step because he is still only a young player, sometimes people forget he is only a young player with a lot to learn but I like the player and I like the boy. No, he will be here for sure, that is out of the question.”

United continue their quest for success on four fronts in Sunday afternoon’s FA Cup fifth-round visit to Blackburn Rovers although Pogba, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, may be rested should Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney recover from injuries that kept them out of the Europa League tie.

Against St-Étienne, Ibrahimovic continued his remarkable season, scoring a hat-trick to reach 23 goals, at the age of 35, and team-mate Chris Smalling hopes his club move quickly to activate the one-year option on the forward’s contract as he believes the Swede is showing no signs of slowing down.

“I think it’s a case of age doesn’t seem to be a factor with him whatsoever,” said Smalling. “He’s probably played one of the most games in our squad and he’s contributed as well, so who knows how long he can go on. I think it’s all down to how long he wants to. I think he is the best in the business at what he does.”

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