Paul Pogba could finally be a Manchester United player once again by this weekend, with the transfer saga of the summer seemingly nearing its end. A record-breaking deal worth around 100 million pounds ($131 million) has effectively been settled with Juventus, with the France midfielder also having agreed personal terms to return to the club he left for the Italian champions four years ago, according to reports in England and Italy.
All that remains is for the transfer to be official is for an agreement to be reached with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola, who is said to want 20 million euros ($22.1 million) for his part in negotiating the transfer.
Juventus has insisted all along that United pay Raiola's fee and The Guardian now reports that United is currently in discussions with the man who also helped broker the deals that brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Old Trafford this summer. Sky Italia, however, reports that Raiola is currently in discussions with Juventus officials.
There is plenty of irony in the fact that the biggest transfer in Manchester United's history comes down to negotiations with Raiola. It was after all the Italian agent who then United manager Alex Ferguson blamed for Pogba leaving the club when his contract expired in 2012. It appears highly unlikely, though, that having worked so long on a deal and having committed to spending such a huge fee that the transfer will now fall apart.
Perhaps comments from Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane in the past 48 hours provided fresh impetus for United to get a deal over the line. Zidane suggested that Real Madrid's interest in the 23-year-old was not yet over, despite Madrid reportedly being unable to match United's bid.
Since then reports have resurfaced suggesting that Manchester United is interested in procuring a midfielder from the Bernabeu. Although James Rodriguez recently stated that he intended to stay at Real Madrid and fight for his place after finding himself out of the side last season, Spanish outlet Don Balon has claimed that Zidane has now decided he wants the Colombian sold.
The report also states that United has already made an offer of 40 million euros ($44.3 million). That, though, falls a long way short of the 80 million euros ($88.7 million) Madrid paid for James two years ago and that the club is believed to want to recoup. Indeed, last week James claimed that an unnamed club had already made a big of 85 million euros ($94.2 million) for him this summer.
If United were to be seriously interested, it would doubtless face competition from Paris Saint-Germain, which has been linked with the 25-year-old through much of the summer.
PSG could soon have its coffers boosted by the sale of Blaise Matuidi, after manager Unai Emery said the midfielder could leave the club if he wanted. Manchester United has long been linked with the France international, either as an alternative to or in addition to Pogba. But United could again face competition, with leading French daily L'Equipe reporting that Juventus has now expressed an interest. The 29-year-old, who started alongside Pogba in the Euro 2016 final, would be a logical replacement for Pogba were he to be sold to Old Trafford.