REAL MADRID

Pogba: Real Madrid target made LaLiga-move pact with agent

Pogba: Real Madrid target made LaLiga-move pact with agent

Catherine Ivill

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The Manchester Evening News revealed in September that Paul Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, told him three years ago he'd get him to Spain in 2019.

Paul Pogba is now, alongside Eden Hazard, a priority summer target for Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane is desperate to make the midfielder a key cog in his new-look team, and has told the club so. This explains why the coach, who is usually so cautious when talking publicly about transfers, could not hide his admiration for Pogba last week, flinging the Bernabéu doors open to his compatriot when he said: "If he wants to come to Madrid, why shouldn't he?"

Raiola told Pogba in 2016: I'll get you LaLiga move in three years 

It's a remark that suggests Madrid have already set the ball rolling in their bid to sign the Manchester United star, and is by no means the only indication that he could well be at Los Blancos in 2019/20. Seven months ago, on 12 September, the Manchester Evening News revealed that the player's agent, Mino Raiola, promised him in 2016 that he would take him to LaLiga this very summer. "Three years and then Spain," Raiola reportedly told Pogba when he joined United.

Pogba seems to have been gravitating towards such a switch since the season started. First, there were his constant conflicts with former manager José Mourinho (who offered yet more evidence of the pair's frosty relationship with a veiled swipe yesterday), followed by his public declaration of love for Madrid on France duty last month ("It's one of the biggest clubs in the world. There is also Zidane as a coach and it's a dream for anybody who likes football") and, finally, the praise subsequently sent in the opposite direction by 'Zizou' ("I like Pogba").

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's appointment in place of Mourinho - initially interim boss, the Norwegian was given the job full-time this month - appears to be an obstacle to the deal, as he's eager not to lose the World Cup winner. Indeed, Solskjaer has made his stance plain, declaring: "He's happy here, he's going be a big, big part [of United's future]. I've always said you'd like to build your team around him, and that hasn't changed at all." But Madrid, aware that Kylian Mbappé now looks out of reach this year, have focused their attentions on Pogba and Hazard and, in the months ahead, will fight tooth and nail to secure their signatures.

Bale could hold key to Madrid's summer Pogba swoop

While good progress is being made on Hazard, a move for Pogba is likely to require a lot of patience, not to mention money, although Madrid are confident that Gareth Bale could be an ace up their sleeve in their efforts to snare the Frenchman. Bale is not in the LaLiga club's plans for next season, and has long been a target for United. If Madrid do end up selling the Welshman (to the Red Devils or any other club), his departure will wipe 14m euros off the annual wage bill - a pay packet which, curiously, is also what Pogba pockets at Old Trafford...