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Paul Pogba is Zidane's big test


Zinedine Zidane gave his first press conference of the season on Monday and when asked if he had requested Paul Pogba replied that he liked the player. I don’t find that surprising, I like Pogba as well. I like him despite the Euros, during which he hardly lived up to the fee that has been attached to him, among other reasons because Didier Deschamps used him in positions that do not suit his abilities best. And I can see Pogba at Real Madrid, which has a shortage of energy. I can see him in Toni Kroos’ position. The German is a great player but he has lost enthusiasm between last season and this. Kroos, in a different midfield than the one he forms with Luka Modric and James, could perhaps return to his central midfield role.

The thing is that I believe that the arrival of Pogba would improve Madrid, and I also know it is not popular to say so. And Zidane’s softly uttered words, in the manner in which he tends to speak – “I like him” – should suffice to nudge Florentino Pérez in that direction. Of course, buying Pogba would require so much money that James would have to be sold, something that would grate on Pérez… and on the other hand Manchester United are in the frame. Mourinho is also pushing for Pogba and he has an advantage because of his cordial relationship with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola. Mourinho’s first two signings at Old Trafford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, are clients of the Dutch super-agent.

On the other hand, there is the matter of the pound’s weakness after Brexit, which supposes that the operation to sign Pogba would be more expensive for United than Madrid. And Pogba would prefer to move to Real. A few days ago he was coaxed into a game with three football shirts by a broadcaster: Juve, United (where he failed to overly impress Alex Ferguson) and Madrid, towards which he showed the most affection. A part of Zidane’s credibility with the squad is in play with the Pogba gambit. The players are about to find out what power Zidane wields, and whether he was installed as an emergency measure that worked out due to a stroke of luck or if he is a coach genuinely in charge of the side and one to whom Pérez will attend to.


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