LONDON: Paul Pogba’s agent denied on Thursday (Friday in Manila) a potential world record transfer sending the France star to Manchester United from Juventus had been finalised as Jose Mourinho looks to reinforce the Premier League giants.
United have reportedly had an £86 million offer ($113 million, 102 million euros) turned down by the Italian champions as they try to lure France international Pogba back to Old Trafford four years after allowing him to leave on a free transfer.
But Mourinho’s side are expected to return with an improved bid that approaches Juventus’s £100 million asking price after United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward met Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola to thrash out personal terms this week.
However, Raiola took to Twitter to insist the deal, which would easily shatter the previous world record fee of £85 million paid by Real Madrid for Gareth Bale in 2013, was not concluded yet.
“There’s no deal done regarding Paul Pogba, lots of bla, bla, bla,” Raiola tweeted on his verified account.
Mourinho, whose side are on a pre-season tour to China, admitted the club needed one more signing before the season starts but would not confirm whether it would be 23-year-old Pogba.
“I don’t confirm and I don’t deny. I cannot tell you,” Mourinho responded, after he was asked directly at a news conference in Shanghai whether he could confirm the reports.
“I don’t think it’s correct to speak about players of other clubs, and he’s a Juventus player and not a Manchester United player.
“The only thing I can tell you is that my board, my directors they did fantastic work to do 75 percent of the job I asked them to do,” said Mourinho.
“I asked them for four players. To be more accurate I asked them for four or five players I need.
“I gave them a few options and they did for me 75 percent of the job with (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, (Henrikh) Mikitharyan and (Eric) Bailly and they have just 25 percent to do until the 31st of August.”
Cutting a relaxed figure
While Pogba’s future is debated by some of football’s leading powerbrokers, the man himself appeared completely unflustered by the hype while on holiday with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, who is another of Raiola’s clients.
A series of social media posts by the star show Pogba soaking up the sunshine and working out in Miami, where he has also been pictured playing basketball while wearing a jersey of the recently crowned NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, a trip to a Florida barbershop ramped up further speculation over Pogba’s future following a less-than-subtle Instagram post from his barber.
“Had to change up Pog haircolor for his new team #ManchesterUnited,” read a post from Criztofferson, the barber, underneath a picture which showed him cutting Pogba’s hair in his Miami salon.
The post was later removed, perhaps at the behest of Pogba, Raiola or bosses at United, and replaced with a more sobre message which read: “Cutting up @PaulPogba for the weekend”.
Juventus persuaded Pogba to turn his back on United in 2012 after he made just a handful of appearances in England and fell out with then manager Alex Ferguson, who slammed him for showing no respect to the club.
Pogba has since emerged as one of the top midfielders in Europe, playing an integral part in the France side that reached the Euro 2016 finals and helping Juventus win four successive Serie A titles.
And Mourinho has reportedly made the Frenchman his top transfer target as he bids to make a big impact in his first season at Old Trafford having already spent more than £50 million on defender Bailly from Villarreal and former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mkhitaryan as well as recruiting Ibrahimovic who left PSG on a free transfer.