Jose Mourinho launches charm offensive as Manchester United aim to beat Real Madrid to France and Juventus star Paul Pogba
- Paul Pogba would prefer a switch to Real Madrid over Old Trafford return
- United have no issues with spending £80m on a player they let go for free
- French midfielder left for Juventus after falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson
Jose Mourinho has launched a charm offensive to try to persuade Paul Pogba that his future lies in Manchester rather than Madrid.
Friends of the Juventus and France midfielder have told Sportsmail that he would prefer a switch to Real Madrid over a return to United.
However, Old Trafford officials believe the Spanish giants are undecided on whether to make what would be close to a world-record move for Pogba.
Paul Pogba applauds the fans at the Stade de France following the 5-2 quarter-final win over Iceland
Pogba headed home France’s second goal on Sunday night as they set up a semi-final clash with Germany
Pogba celebrates after doubling France’s lead in only the 19th minute of the match on Sunday night
They think they can convince the 23-year-old that a chance to work under Mourinho is a better option than waiting for a Madrid offer that may not come this summer.
United have no issues with spending around £80million on a player Sir Alex Ferguson let go for next to nothing in 2012.
The key players involved in Pogba’s departure are no longer at the club and a scenario in which United pay out vast sums to correct their own error does not present any issues.
‘Pogba is one of the manager’s targets,’ a source said. ‘In that case, as with all players the manager feels can improve the squad, the past is irrelevant.’
When the dynamic playmaker departed Old Trafford, relations with his agent, Mino Raiola, and Ferguson were incredibly strained.
However, since Mourinho’s arrival Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Raiola client, has arrived on a free transfer with Borussia Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan, another Raiola man, set to complete his move before the end of the week after both clubs agreed a fee.
The former Manchester United midfielder is congratulated by team-mates Bacary Sagna and Blaise Matuidi
The Frenchman’s agent, Mino Raiola, is also the agent of new United signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic
As part of the charm offensive, United will have to convince Pogba’s mother that a return to Manchester is a wise move after she hit out at his treatment previously, claiming the club had driven him to tears.
Real president Florentino Perez may become an unlikely ally. The Bernabeu supremo, does not want to break the bank for a player he remains unconvinced by.
Perez is not thought to be a big fan of either agent or player. However, if Pogba leads France to glory and becomes the player of the tournament in his home country then it may force the La Liga giants’ hand.
Images captured in the aftermath of Les Bleus 5-2 thumping of Iceland show Pogba shouting ‘vamos’, Spanish for ‘come on’, with some claiming that he picked up the word from international team-mate and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Greizmann, who wants the pair to be reunited in the Spanish capital, albeit with different clubs.
Pogba departed United on a free transfer in 2012 before joining Serie A giants Juventus
Pogba poses with him at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich back in January of this year
Should that come to pass Real, on Monday fined €18m by the EU for receiving illegal state aid, will look to offload Colombia talisman James Rodriguez, playmaker Isco and possibly even Germany midfield lynchpin Toni Kroos.
Unusually for the Champions League winners, manager Zinedine Zidane will also have a say in things but the Frenchman is thought to be a big admirer of Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante.
Meanwhile, Mourinho started work at the club on Monday.
He arrived at Manchester Piccadilly train station on Sunday night and spent the evening at the five-star Lowry Hotel. Looking relaxed and wearing an untucked sky blue shirt, jeans and trainers, he departed in a Mercedes people carrier for United’s training ground at 7.50am.
After completing the 11-mile journey, the Portuguese spent the majority of his time putting the finishing touches to the club’s pre-season plans.
With the players who did not compete at the Copa America and European Championship not due to return until Wednesday, his main focus was on administration, although he did look in on the Under 18s.
The manager also spoke to Mkhitaryan, as his move progresses.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to complete his move to Manchester United by the end of this week
New United boss Jose Mourinho arrived at Manchester Piccadilly train station on Sunday night
Mourinho’s main task was to finalise arrangements for the club’s pre-season tour. The Portuguese was given the final say on hotels, travel arrangements and training times and it was at his request that the club arranged another pre-season friendly and will head to Sweden to face Galatasaray on July 30.
While tour planning took up most of his time, Mourinho was also spoken to about his preferences of which pitches to use at Carrington and when.
Predecessor Louis van Gaal liked to mirror training around kick-off times and, as revealed by Sportsmail last year, had floodlights installed so players could train late before evening kick-offs.
The new man also met staff who he had not already been introduced to, and in the late afternoon, met with the club’s media team to run through his unveiling at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Mourinho’s day was rounded off on a high when he returned to the Lowry to find staff had arranged a welcome pack featuring a number of Manchester-themed gifts.
Sportsmail understands he was given presents including specially-commissioned cakes and a copy of the book Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain.
The tome, by former NME chief photographer Kevin Cummins, is a look at how eight bands shaped the city’s culture, and features a photograph of The Stone Roses, covered in paint, on its front cover.