Raiola says he advised United to sign Zlatan

LONDON • Mino Raiola, who is believed to have made £20 million (S$33.92 million) from Paul Pogba's £89 million transfer from Juventus to Manchester United, has revealed more about his relationship with the Old Trafford club.

The agent described himself as an "in-house consultant".

In an interview with The Financial Times, Raiola says that he knew the club's big attacking signings last year, Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay, would not prosper.

"Martial and Depay come in and say, 'We have to carry Manchester United, a giant institute?' So already last year I told the people at United, 'You'll have to put in a guy like Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) to restore the balance.' Then the attention goes to Zlatan. He has the experience, and dares take the responsibility."

Pogba's world-record move, he reveals, was also part of a long-term plan: "I spent two years working on United's deal with Paul."

Of his relationship with United manager Jose Mourinho, Raiola says: "I knew (him) from Inter, and there we'd had a bad relationship. But Mourinho is intelligent enough to understand what I do. At clubs that understand me, I have three or four players. Now at United and before at Juventus, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain."

That is in contrast to his dealings with Alex Ferguson.

Raiola represented Pogba during the Frenchman's first stint at the club and met Ferguson in 2012 to ask for a better contract.

According to the agent, the former United manager refused to talk to him unless Pogba was present.

Once he was, Ferguson asked: "You don't want to sign this contract?" Pogba replied: "We're not going to sign this contract under these conditions."

At this point Ferguson turned to Raiola and said: "You're a t***."

Raiola said of the proposed contract: "This is an offer that my chihuahuas - I have two chihuahuas - (won't) sign."

Ferguson allegedly responded by repeating his original insult.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Raiola says he advised United to sign Zlatan'. Print Edition | Subscribe