Manchester United appear to be locked in a full scale bidding war with Real Madrid over their top summer target, Paul Pogba.
The pursuit of the Frenchman is the clearest indication yet that Jose Mourinho intends nothing less than a full-scale transformation of the club.
If United succeed in the face of such adversity – Madrid’s spending power is second to none, and they have the added attraction of sunny climes and Champions League football – it will be an enormous vote of confidence in the direction Mourinho wants to take the club.
Pogba is the number one target because he is football’s hottest property at the moment. Man Utd fans would do well to reflect on that fact, as the club saw him depart some years ago when he was still just a young player with promise. There was a lot of acrimony flying around at the time; Fergie said he’d shown the club enormous disrespect in going to Juventus when he was clearly going to be a first team footballer in the near future, and so there may be a little of that anger still in the air. Nevertheless, he’s the man Jose wants.
Going head-to-head with Real Madrid will be a good indication as to how Pogba, and through him others, view the new regime at Old Trafford.
If both sides have their bids accepted it’s not going to come down to money as much as 42 carat ambition; does he believe that Mourinho and his plans are taking Manchester United in the right direction, or does he think the sunshine and glamour of Madrid is where he has to be?
Mourinho is notoriously good at selling a vision.
He will certainly want to get the player in for a face-to-face chat before a decision is made. The signing itself smacks of ambition, and a grand ambition at that, to restore the club’s fortunes as the biggest in England and then in the world. There is probably no-one better placed to punt that idea than the Special One.
Yet Pogba will definitely take convincing.
The Euros have the eyes of the world as to just how fantastically talented he is, as if there many who didn’t already know. Real won’t be the only super-club sniffing around; Barcelona are said to be interested too, and they’ve already put out feelers over Pogba’s Juventus team mate, the Argentine Paulo Dybala, who they see as a worthy future successor to the likes of Suarez and Messi.
In short, if Mourinho pulls this off it will be the coup to end all coups, and it would, in an instant, legitimise the strategy he’s following and make United look like a huge draw to the best footballers in the world all over again.
Ibrahimovic has already been convinced of that fact, but he is in his mid thirties now, a huge talent to be sure, but one on the wane.
Pogba could have as many as ten years at the top to come. He could be the glue that holds a new United team together for a long time to come. That’s why this signing is bigger, by far, than the one that brought the nomadic Swede to the club.
This deal represents the future.
That’s why everyone at Old Trafford wants to get it over the line.