Manchester United made waves in the transfer market this summer when they re-signed their former midfielder Paul Pogba for a world-record £89 million, but had previously been the subject of interest from the Red Devils’ new manager José Mourinho when he was at Chelsea, according to Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.
Pogba was allowed to leave Manchester United for free in 2012, heading to Juventus when Alex Ferguson decided he didn’t have what it takes to make the grade at Old Trafford. He was just eighteen at the time and has now returned to Manchester as a 23-year-old in a deal that caused some to raise eyebrows at the expense. He could easily have been playing for Mourinho earlier than this summer, however, according to comments his agent has made to Rai Sport.
The Italy midfielder was the subject of interest from the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ when he was still in charge at Stamford Bridge, however the deal was unable to be completed because Raiola had made an agreement with Juve that Pogba could leave as long as the Italian giants won the Serie A title and the Champions League. Juventus won a fifth consecutive Serie A title last season, equalling an Italian record, but they missed out on Champions League victory when Bayern Munich knocked them out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.
Things didn’t work out for Mourinho either, with the Portuguese manager being dismissed from his post in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat by the club’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich in December, having led Chelsea to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. He has since gone on to take over from Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United, but things could have been so much different for all concerned according to Pogba’s agent.
Raiola said, “Paul could have left last year because Mourinho – then at Chelsea – really wanted him. But Juventus and I had agreement: win the league title and the Champions League, then he can go”.
Raiola believes that Aurelio De Laurentiis, the president of Italian club Napoli, will be sending his client a present as a thank you. Pogba’s move to United allowed Juventus to invest €90 million in the signing of Napoli’s striker Gonzalo Higuain; a huge sum of money for a 28-year-old forward. Raiola said, “De Laurentiis should be giving Paul a present, because without his departure Juventus would never have bought Higuain, and he would never have been able to bank all that money”.
Pogba has made five appearances in the Premier League so far for Manchester United, scoring one goal. He’s also appeared twice in the Europa League but has failed to find the net in that competition. As the Italian struggles to re-find his feet in England Chelsea will believe that Raiola’s agreement with Juventus has helped them to dodge a bullet.