Real get ball rolling on big-money Pogba move
Real Madrid have made an initial move for Paul Pogba, as it is understood intermediaries are now discussing a potential deal for the Manchester United star.
The 26-year-old actively wants to leave for the Bernabeu in this window, and is one of the main summer targets of Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who so wants Pogba he has agreed to compromise on preferred number-one Keylor Navas.
Zidane has agreed to sell the Costa Rican to try and aid and fund the purchase of Pogba. United's preference has always been to keep Pogba, but a number of factors - from lesser commercial value than anticipated to his influence on the dressing-room - have made them more open to a potential sale.
The Old Trafford hierarchy would want well in excess of £150m (€173m), but that is just one of many factors set to make this one of the sagas of the summer.
The first is that Pogba's agent Mino Raiola is now suspended by Fifa until August 9, the day after the closure of the Premier League window. That will likely mean any signing will be delayed until the end of the summer, if a deal can be struck.
While Zidane is intent on Pogba, meanwhile, the Bernabeu hierarchy are less sold on the player's influence and more interested in Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen.
It is understood that Zidane's willingness to let Navas go might have solved this, though, especially as he has previously preferred the Costa Rican to Thibaut Courtois.
Madrid want to make Courtois their marquee number-one, so concession on this sees them more willing to back the purchase of Pogba.
The midfielder's wage demands, however, could yet prove the biggest obstacle of all.
Pogba wants to be made the highest-paid player in the world, which could involve a basic wage of up to £500,000 (€575,000).
That would make Madrid balk, since they would struggle to fund both the price of the purchase and such a salary.
The Bernabeu hierarchy would therefore prefer a player-plus-cash deal, but United are not currently interested.
Talk of Toni Kroos being included has gone quiet, and it is now felt Raphael Varane will stay in the Spanish capital.
Madrid would love to include previous Old Trafford target Gareth Bale in the deal, since Zidane wants to get rid of the forward this summer, but United do not currently have interest in a player who turns 30 in July and would command huge wages.
It says much about the situation that Pogba's own wage demands are currently seen as the greatest possible hold-up.
The player, however, wants the move. Zidane wants the move, and is doing much to convince his club of the move. United would be open to the move at a very high price. (© Independent News service)