LONDON • Jose Mourinho believes that the English Premier League will provide the "perfect habitat" for Paul Pogba to develop into the best footballer in the world, as the Juventus midfielder's transfer for a world-record fee to Manchester United neared completion yesterday.
The France international underwent a medical check-up at the English club's Carrington training ground and he is expected to be unveiled today after he signs for £93 million (S$163 million).
"On Tuesday I will be there waiting for him," Mourinho said after United's 2-1 win over Leicester City in the Community Shield on Sunday. "We have everything to give him and he wants to be an important part of the Manchester United project.
"United are the perfect club to bring him to the level that he wants to be, the Premier League is the perfect habitat.
"If you want to be the best player in the world, if you go to Barcelona or Real Madrid, you are in trouble. Here, he has the conditions to develop in the most-seen worldwide championship with a team that want to bring Manchester United to the top again."
The United manager claimed to be unaware of the price but said he would not be unduly concerned at shelling out more than the £85 million that Real paid for Welsh forward Gareth Bale in the world's previous most lucrative transfer.
"I don't think Real Madrid were upset when they broke the record for Gareth Bale or Cristiano (Ronaldo)," he said.
"It's a reason to be proud of the dimension of the club. I just know that he's a big player who is going to be important for a big club."
Mourinho later defended his decision to withdraw Juan Mata, who was unhappy at being substituted in stoppage time, having only been brought on as a substitute himself after the hour mark in the Community Shield game.
The pair have a history of clashes after Mourinho deemed Mata surplus to requirements at Chelsea and sold him to United in 2014.
"I know that I did something that is not nice to do," Mourinho said. "But now he's fine, because he understands what I did.
"The last five minutes were a nightmare. They had a right-back (Luis Hernandez) throwing balls 50 metres into the box. I couldn't take off (Marouane) Fellaini or (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic - they were very important to me on the pitch for (defending) those throw-ins."
Mourinho also revealed that his target for the season was to win every league game.
"It's impossible, a very stupid motivation," he said. "But if you look at it from a different perspective, it's what you have to do - improve every match."
By contrast Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said that the defending champions' primary goal for the Premier League season was to record 40 points - the mark widely assumed to guarantee safety from relegation.
"Don't laugh!" the Italian said. "I restart with the same philosophy, the same humility. If you think Leicester have to fight against Man United and Man City, you make a mistake.
"There is a very good basement, now we have to build the ground floor."
Despite being defeated by Ibrahimovic's late goal, after Jamie Vardy had equalised for Leicester in response to Jesse Lingard's superb opener for United, Ranieri said that he was delighted with the performance of his team.
"I watched the same team as last season," he said. "Only the result is against us. They gave 120 per cent."
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN