Spanish newspaper AS is reporting today that Manchester United have stolen a march on Real Madrid in the race to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.
The report claims that new United boss José Mourinho has earmarked Pogba as his number one target this summer, and the club are willing to meet Juventus’ enormous €120 million asking price, as well as commiting to pay the comission demanded by the player’s agent.
Madrid are believed to be unwilling to go as high as the figure Juventus have supposedly quoted, and have now "put negotiations on hold," meaning that United’s determination has seen them edge out in front of the 11-time European champions to become favourites to sign the player.
Earlier this week, the Manchester Evening News reported that Mourinho is hopeful of pulling off the type of marquee signing that will "make everyone sit up straight," and Pogba is the man he thinks will have that kind of impact.
Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, also looks after Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, two players who are widely reported to be on the verge of moves to Old Trafford.
If United were to sign Pogba, they would be righting a wrong of four years ago, as the Frenchman was one of the shining lights of the Red Devils’ youth academy and made a handful of first-team appearances, before being allowed to leave the club for free after failing to agree a contract renewal in 2012.
Pogba moved to Juventus and immediately became a key player for the Old Lady, helping steer the Turin club to four successive Serie A title wins in his time there.
It is thought that United have always maintained an interest in bringing Pogba back to Old Trafford, but have been discuraged by the fact that paying a British record transfer fee to sign a player they’d previoulsy allowed to leave for free, would be perceived negatively.
But Mourinho is adamant that the 23-year-old is the man to build his new team around, and the Portuguese coach appears to have convinced executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to do whatever it takes to make the deal happen.
Pogba is, of course, currently on international duty with France at the UEFA European Championship, so any potential deal will likely have to wait until the host nation’s Euro 2016 campaign is over.