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REAL MADRID

Paul Pogba's long summer as Real Madrid show patience

The operation to bring in Zidane's desired target is not going to happen quickly, but Los Blancos' strategic path is one that has been travelled before.

Real Madrid are taking a patient stance when it comes to 'Operation Pogba'. According to AS sources at the club, the plan is to put most of their efforts behind the scenes into offloading players that are seen as surplus to requirements for the new season, in order to balance the books for further spending. The upshot of this strategy is that the French midfielder is still expected to arrive, but not in the very short term, and not on the cheap. While the exit door is left unlocked at the Santiago Bernabéu, Los Blancos await Manchester United opening their own doors to begin the negotiation.

Patience for Pogba

The signing of Pogba is one that manager Zinedine Zidane has been pushing for since he arrived, and it is going to be a game of endurance to bring it home. Holding out until the end of the transfer window to secure the deal will not result in a lower price being paid for the player, as can happen in other situations. It is, however, an approach that Florentino Pérez is familiar with as similar deals were done for Ronaldo Nazário (August 31, 2002), Luka Modric (August 27, 2012) and Gareth Bale (August 31, 2013). The transfer curtain for LaLiga comes down on 2 September, somewhat later than in the Premier League.

Looking for the door | Paul Pogba of Manchester United.

Looking for the door | Paul Pogba of Manchester United.

Priceless Pogba

The reality as we reach the middle of July is that Manchester United appear to be trying to ignore the situation, or at least attempting to resolve it internally by changing the player's mind. There is no desire inside Old Trafford to negotiate, and that means that Madrid do not know what price they would have to pay for Pogba. There is no doubt, of course, that it will be an expensive purchase, if they are able to make it happen, but with no interaction, the final figure can only be estimated.

Reaching for the top | Paul Pogba during United's training session in Perth.

Reaching for the top | Paul Pogba during United's training session in Perth.

How Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola play their side - they have already made it clear that he wants to move on - will have a role, as will the end of the English top flight's transfer window, which will prevent united from bringing in reinforcements after 9 August. With no Champions League football to offer, tempting top class talent to replace the World Cup winner is a challenge for the English club.

Exit strategy and FFP

The threat of Financial Fair Play sanctions has Madrid playing their hand carefully, with their aim to maintain a gap between sales and purchases that does not exceed 100 million euros. The club has strengthened its playing squad already this summer - with a record spend - and, without counting potential add-on payments, has laid out €298m and brought in €115m.

Squad prep | Zidane puts his squad through their paces in Montreal.

Squad prep | Zidane puts his squad through their paces in Montreal.

This deficit of €183m has been accepted to get most of the new faces in the door in time to get a full pre-season with Zidane under their belts, but a further lightening of the load is being accelerated, complicated by some refusing to leave. The futures of James, Bale, Isco, Lucas Vázquez, and others apper to be the keys to open the white door for Paul Pogba.