Guardiola rebuffs agent's January 'offer' to sign Pogba

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has claimed that he was offered Manchester United's Paul Pogba this season by Mino Raiola, with Manchester City's manager rounding on the agent, who last month branded him "a coward, a dog".

Relations between Pogba and United manager Jose Mourinho have been strained and the midfielder was dropped in February.

Guardiola claimed he was invited to sign the Frenchman two months ago but it appears he was referring to the January window, particularly as he said Raiola also offered him Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who joined Arsenal that month.

Guardiola's claim, if true, indicated that Raiola was trying to engineer a move for Pogba even before the player lost his starting place.

The first indication of problems between Pogba and Mourinho came when the player was withdrawn at Tottenham on Jan 31.

Guardiola mentioned Pogba when asked about Raiola's verbal attack on him.

Raiola's dislike of the Catalan stems from the manager's treatment at Barcelona of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell, two of his other clients.

RANT AGAINST RAIOLA

I don't understand why I am a so bad guy. I never speak with him so his opinion (about me), I don't know. But being a guy who two months ago offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why? He has to protect his players and has to know he cannot bring the players to a guy like me, like a dog. And comparing a dog is bad. It's not good... He has to respect the dogs.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Man City manager, rounding on agent Mino Raiola, who last month branded him "a coward, a dog".

"I will answer him; I don't understand why I am," said Guardiola.

"Finally, the people discover my secrets - a bad guy. I'm a coward. I don't understand why I am a so bad guy. I never speak with him so his opinion (about me), I don't know.

"But being a guy who two months ago offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?

"Why he offer? He was interested in Mhikitaryan and Pogba to play with us? So he has to protect his players and has to know he cannot bring the players to a guy like me, like a dog. And comparing with a dog is bad. It's not good. He has to respect the dogs."

Pressed about Pogba, Guardiola said: "Pogba is an incredible player… A top, top player."

City's manager was sarcastic when asked what he thought of the offer.

"I said no," he said. "We don't have the money enough to buy Pogba because he is so expensive. I'm surprised because I am a dog. He wants his players to come to here. So, no. No way.

"I am not a good guy. He deserves his players to play with better guys. But, he knows as well I am a top manager. Thank you."

Shortly after Guardiola's comments became public, Pogba posted a tweet which appeared to respond to the City manager.

"Say what?" he wrote.

Raiola also denied the conversation had taken place.

"I never spoke to Pep Guardiola. I would not speak to him about players, I would speak to Manchester City. They are a fantastic club with a fantastic manager."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Guardiola rebuffs agent's January 'offer' to sign Pogba'. Print Edition | Subscribe