Football: Pogba to 'sign by next week'

France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is heading for Old Trafford but is expected to miss both the Community Shield and the first game of the new Premier League season against Bournemouth.
France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is heading for Old Trafford but is expected to miss both the Community Shield and the first game of the new Premier League season against Bournemouth.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Midfielder's agent reveals move to Man United will be concluded soon as Pogba autographs Red Devils jersey

LONDON • Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has reportedly given Paul Pogba's £100 million-plus (S$177.1 million) signing his stamp of approval.

According to the Daily Mail, the Scot had dinner with Jose Mourinho at the club's training ground and also mingled with the players for the first time since he retired three years ago.

Ferguson's endorsement of Pogba - which will not speed up the transfer process in any way - is still significant as he fell out with the Frenchman's agent Mino Raiola four years ago.

It was then that Pogba left Old Trafford for practically nothing and will now cost United a massive fee to bring back.

The club are also confident of completing their world-record transfer in time for the France midfielder to join Mourinho's squad when the 23-year-old returns from his extended post-Euro 2016 break on Saturday.

Raiola revealed yesterday that the deal would be concluded "within the next week".

  • What impact will Pogba have on United?

  • PACE
    He is good at dictating the tempo of the game, moving the ball forward at great speed and spreading the play.

    AERIAL ABILITY
    Can shrug off players and win balls in the middle of the park. Has a vital part to play both defensively and offensively.

    NO WEAK FOOT
    He can shoot with both feet with ease.

    ASSIST MAN
    He works best when he is able to supply to a clinical striker - Alvaro Morata for Juventus last season, and Antoine Griezmann for France.

    CONFIDENCE
    He knows that he is good, and never fails to show it through his sometimes controversial social media postings.

    GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
    He has forged a close friendship with Juventus and France team-mate Patrice Evra and should have no problems doing the same at United.

  • 10
    Goals scored for Juventus last season. That puts him just behind United forwards Anthony Martial (17) and Wayne Rooney (15).

  • 12
    Assists, the joint most in the Serie A with Miralem Pjanic of Roma, double Rooney's tally.

  • 124
    Shots taken, the third most in the Italian top flight and 52 more than Rooney, United's top shooter.

Pogba, currently on holiday in the United States, started to tease fans on his Instagram account with a photo of himself at Universal Studios in California and the caption: "Breaking news: Pogba undergoes medical visit in Universal Studios amusement park."

Earlier yesterday, he signed a United fan's jersey with his name and No. 6 printed on it.

Only minor legal details now stand in the way of his return to Manchester, as well as the necessary formality of a medical check-up. Suggestions on Friday that the midfielder had already been screened by United's staff were wide of the mark.

United, though, remain relaxed about the timescale of the deal. Pogba is also having a good time in Los Angeles - he was photographed shopping for shoes on Thursday - after a break with his agent and another of Raiola's clients, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, in Miami.

With the player set to miss both the Community Shield next Sunday and at least the first weekend of the Premier League season, United do not feel under any pressure to conclude the medical check-up. They could send medical staff to the US to meet Pogba, but may yet choose to wait until he returns home.

Mourinho's focus for now, besides preparing his squad for the new Premier League season, is on another of his new signings - Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The manager said yesterday that the Swede is playing a pivotal role in creating a friendly atmosphere in the United dressing room, adding that the striker should not restrict his role in the squad to just a scorer.

"With Zlatan you may see someone with a big ego, big self-esteem, but it is in a positive way. When he is with the group, he is humble and friendly to everyone - integration is good," Mourinho told MUTV.

"Zlatan is a fantastic player and, immediately in training, we could feel what I call 'functional empathy' - people looking to him, him looking to connect with other players.

"He is an amazing link player, an amazing player. He could be anything on the pitch, not just a goal-scorer."

Ibrahimovic joined the first team only recently following his arrival early this month after being given extra time off following Euro 2016, where Sweden crashed out in the group stage.

Mourinho will mark his return to England's top flight when he takes United to Bournemouth for their first game of the league season on Aug 14.

With his desired signings all falling into place, the 53-year-old now has the "balance" he wants in his squad.

And as the Portuguese had described in his first press conference as United manager, he now has the chance "to breathe".

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Pogba to 'sign by next week''. Print Edition | Subscribe