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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: The final sprint for Pogba

If Man United can find his replacement before the English transfer market close on 8 August, it will allow Paul Pogba to become the final cog on Zinedine Zidane’s wheel.

After Wednesday’s victory over Fenerbahce in the Allianz Arena, Zinedine Zidane was asked about his system: “We have played a 4-4-2, sometimes a 4-4-1-1 ... But there are going to be changes ... we need to change”.

His statement was uttered in a hesitant manner and sounded ambiguous, because for the French coach there is still a vital cog missing to his game plan.

That cog is Paul Pogba – the physical and capable midfielder that Zidane wants to balance the forces in his team and address the issue of goal concession (16 goals have been conceded in five pre-season games, an average of 3.2 per game).

The operation to sign the Manchester United midfielder has entered the decisive days. Not because Real Madrid must sign him before the transfer market close on 8 August (English clubs can no longer register new players after that date, but can still sell players abroad); but because United must first secure his replacement in the now-six-day window.

If they manage to do so, it will be a sign that they have realized that the departure of the Frenchman is inevitable. And then, Madrid will have until 2 September to close the operation.

Pogba’s strategy with United has changed

As reported by this newspaper, Pogba, on the advice of Real Madrid, has changed the strategy that his representative, Mino Raiola, devised at the beginning of the summer. The one that he follows now is based on prudence and good manners. He trains and plays without issue, but has already told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he wants to go to Madrid.

Gone are the first aggressive movements: Pogba stating “it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else” while in Tokyo, and Raiola reinforcing his client’s words by telling the media that Man United “have known his feelings for a long time”. But all of that helped.

The Red Devils have the set the wheels in motion and are close to signing not one, but two midfielders: Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes and Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. If both or either are announced by 8 August, it will allow Pogba to become the final cog on Zidane’s wheel.