LONDON • Paul Pogba has given the clearest indication yet that he would consider leaving Juventus and moving to Manchester City rather than Barcelona this summer, admitting that he would relish the chance to learn from the "football icon" Pep Guardiola.
It had been suggested in Italy that the Spanish and European champions Barcelona had reached an accord with Juventus last year that offered them first refusal on the 22-year-old midfielder this summer, putting them ahead of Real Madrid, Chelsea and City in the expected chase for his signature.
His lavish praise of City's incoming manager, however, will give the English club hope that Pogba's future is anything but determined.
City do not intend to effect an overhaul of their squad to coincide with Guardiola's arrival. Internally, the club's hierarchy are expecting to make no more than three or four signings, as was the case under Manuel Pellegrini.
In an interview with Sky Sports Germany, Pogba, 22, was adamant that he would benefit from working with Guardiola.
"He is a coach with a lot of experience and one who has a great game philosophy," said the midfielder.
"Therefore, he always has a great influence on his team. All players (around the world) respect him. You only have to look at him and you want to learn from him.
"I've heard that he improves every player. He is a football icon. Right now I am with Juventus, but the chance of working with him could (increase) in the future.
"Clearly if you have a chance to work with someone like him, you can only develop further."
Pogba spent two years as a youth player with Manchester United before moving to Italy in 2012 because of his frustration at a lack of first-team opportunities.
He has won three successive Serie A titles and helped Juventus to last season's Champions League final, developing into one of the most complete and coveted midfielders in the world.
He would not come cheap, though. It is believed that the Italian champions turned down two offers worth about £60 million (S$121.5 million) last summer.
THE TIMES, LONDON