With two (almost three) transfer targets already wrapped up, Manchester United have turned their attention to a much more complicated deal.
According to multiple sources over the past few days, new Manchester United boss José Mourinho has identified Juventus and France star Paul Pogba as his next target – though actually getting him may prove to be a massive obstacle.
The Telegraph outlined last night that Mourinho was prepared to sanction a move of £84m up to £100m – a world transfer record – to land the 23 year old, but it’s far more tricky than simply offering the right amount of money.
Firstly, Man United aren’t Pogba’s first choice. The Guardian are reporting that his first preference would be to move from Juve To Real Madrid, and even if Manchester United do outbid Real for the player, convincing him to return to England would be another challenge altogether.
An advantage Man United do have over their La Liga rivals is that it is unlikely the rival giants could afford to get into a bidding war. The European Commission yesterday ordered the club to pay back millions in illegal state subsidies, small change for them perhaps but there is almost certainly going to be a higher level of frugality from them than in previous years.
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City could be another fly in the ointment. Although they have indicated a willingness to rival Man United for Pogba’s signature, they definitely would have the resources to match their neighbours’ bid – and, crucially, can offer Pogba Champions League football immediately.
He is (as per the Guardian report) demanding wages of €300,000 per week – a similar amount to Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović – which Mourinho hopes the club will sanction.
Even without the bids from other European and English clubs, Mourinho may have to get personally get involved in the deal rather than leave it to Ed Woodward.
The deals to sign Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimović were relatively uncomplicated; negotiating a deal with Juventus will be a massive test of the executive vice chairman’s ability – bigger than any other deal he has completed (but of a similar scope to plenty he has failed in).
An official bid is expected in the coming weeks, and while Man United are growing in confidence that a deal can be done to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford, never underestimate the chances of something unexpected happening at any moment.