With three transfers already completed, new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is eager to get the biggest deal of all completed as the club gets set to begin its preseason schedule. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly were quickly identified by Mourinho and brought to Old Trafford, but a potential record-breaking 100 million pounds ($131 million) transfer for Paul Pogba is unsurprisingly proving more complex.
One major hurdle, though, appears to already have been cleared. United’s willingness to smash the transfer record for the France midfielder is widely believed to have pushed Real Madrid out of the running. Given Real Madrid are the Champions League holders and Manchester United won’t even be in the competition next season, it is hardly surprising that it has taken a huge sum of money to swing the fight for the highly coveted 23-year-old in the direction of the Premier League giants.
According to Spanish daily Marca, negotiations have even progressed to such an extent that personal terms between United and Pogba have been agreed. However, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan, has insisted that all options, including staying at Juventus, remain on the table.
“Juve don't want to get rid of Pogba – they want him to stay for a long time and they want to renew his contract,” Raiola told Sky Italy. “Only if he wants to leave will we sit down and talk about it. I can't exclude anything, though, not even that he will be sold to another club.
"The transfer market is open for a long time – it closes in September. Between Raiola and all the clubs in the world there is a line open, not only with Manchester United.”
It is quite possible, of course, that Raiola’s words are simply a bargaining tactic to enhance any deal for both Pogba and himself. Still, given that Pogba has been linked with a move away from Juventus for at least the past two summers and ultimately stayed in Turin, it is understandable that Manchester United appear to be exploring alternatives in the transfer market.
Included on that list, according to reports is France, is a player who lined up alongside Pogba in France’s Euro 2016 final defeat to Portugal on Sunday. Moussa Sissoko actually outshone his more illustrious teammate on that night to greatly enhance his attractiveness to potential suitors.
The 26-year-old rarely showed such form during Newcastle’s relegation from the Premier League last season. Yet his ability to be one of the division’s best box-to-box midfielders was established after first arriving from Toulouse in 2013. And, while Sissoko’s dedication to Newcastle can be questioned, it is also surely understandable for any player to lack motivation at a club run in such a soulless manner. While not on the same level of ability as Pogba, it is easy to see why Mourinho might consider him a useful addition.
More surprising is the Daily Mirror’s assertion that Cesc Fabregas is on Mourinho’s radar. Both manager and club, of course, have a significant history with the Spanish midfielder. Manchester United has engaged in a very public pursuit of Fabregas before, when failing to sign him from Barcelona in David Moyes’ first summer in charge.
A year later Mourinho was successful in taking him to Chelsea. But after a fine start to his time at Stamford Bridge, he endured a torrid second season, when he was at the center of reports of player unrest with Mourinho. Fabregas always denied such accusations, yet it would still be a shock were Mourinho to bring him to Old Trafford, if only because of the former Arsenal man’s general decline of late.