Jose Mourinho would not be surprised if Manchester United’s interest in Paul Pogba fails to bear fruit — and he has two alternatives lined up.
Four years on from Pogba departing Old Trafford, the 23-year-old midfielder is being trailed by his former club having flourished at Juventus.
The Italian giants have reportedly turned down a world-record transfer bid for Pogba and work continues as United look to add the final piece of their transfer jigsaw, with the player’s agent Mino Raiola taking to Twitter to state “there is no deal done”.
Paris St Germain’s Blaise Matuidi and Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic have also been linked with moves to Old Trafford, but Pogba remains the name on everyone’s lips.
“You have smoke, you have fire — you used to say something like that, right?” Mourinho said. “I am not going to try to make you naive and believe that we are not trying for one player.
“But we know first of all that the player belongs to another club, which is not a small club. It is also a big club, a club with economical power to fight for their best players, to try and keep their best players.
“Apart from that we know other clubs are also involved and for us it is not kind of ‘are we going to win the race or to lose the race?’. It is not a race, it is just the market.
“And when you go to the market, you have other options. You cannot focus on one, so we are in a very comfortable situation.
— Irish Examiner Sport (@ExaminerSport) July 21, 2016
“My relationship with Mr Woodward is very good, it is very open. I never create this kind of situation for him that it is black or white. It is not black or white, I give him options.
“Since day one I tried to be pragmatic in my analysis, I try to give him different options so he’s not feeling the pressure that ‘I need to get this player because this is the player the manager wants’.
“My board doesn’t need pressure from the manager. My board needs to be calm, to feel we have other options.
“I really need for the balance of my squad a midfield player but we have more options.”
Mourinho says 75% of United’s summer business is complete having filled three of four “fundamental” areas, with central defender Eric Bailly, creative midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic having so far arrived.
A central midfielder will follow but Mourinho was at pains to stress that United are not being blinded by Pogba’s qualities — in fact, he conceded the deal may not even happen.
“We have one space for a midfield player,” the United boss said. “Everybody speaks about one, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if it is not him and it is another one because we went for profile.
“We have two more options in front of us and we are going to close one.”
While this deal rumbles on, Mourinho praised the swift and effective work by executive vice-chairman Woodward and the United board this summer.
The Portuguese has been backed in an inflated transfer market that could see Pogba arrive in the world’s first £100m deal.
“We are in a comfortable position but we know what it is wrong and what is right,” Mourinho said when asked about a potential world-record outlay. “We know what the balance is and, I repeat, we are not going to be only focusing on one player.
“We need a fourth player with a certain profile and we’re going to get it.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved