Jose Mourinho has revealed he persuaded Paul Pogba to join Manchester United by a barrage of text messages in an effort to fend off another manager from a “big club” who was also trying to talk him into a move.
The United manager revealed that he had to text the France international on a daily basis in order to complete a world record £89m deal, with the 23-year-old sealing his return to Old Trafford four years after leaving the club for Italian side Juventus.
United’s pursuit of Pogba was one of the most drawn out transfer sagas in recent memory, and various reports claimed that the deal was done or it was being held up throughout the summer until confirmation came from the club itself on the 9 August.
Yet Mourinho has now revealed just how hard it was to tempt Pogba to choose United over their rivals. Real Madrid were also linked with the Frenchman, while the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain also cropped up in reports over the past year alongside his name.
“Oh! It was hard to convince him, I had many [conversations] on the phone, lots of SMS,” Mourinho told Goal.
“I think he was getting one in the morning from the manager from another big club and one in the afternoon from myself. I had to try hard to convince him to choose us instead of the other one.”
Despite becoming the world’s most expensive footballer – surpassing the £86m Real Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale in 2013 – Pogba came in for criticism during the derby defeat to rivals Manchester City on Saturday, with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher criticising Pogba for his positioning throughout the match and abandoning his midfielder partner Marouane Fellaini.
However, despite the defeat, United are still in the hunt for the Premier League title, although bookmakers’ odds suggest that it will take an almighty effort to stop Pep Guardiola’s City from claiming glory this season with odds of 10/11 being offer across the board, compared to United’s 5/1.
Mourinho echoed their prediction and added that the intention this season is not to win the title but to guarantee a return to the Champions League.
He added: “To get back to the Champions League we need to do well in the Premier League, so the first step is to recover the self-esteem, which I think we are doing.”
One potential route into the Champions League is winning the Europa League, with United set to begin their campaign on Thursday when they travel to the Netherlands to take on Feyenoord. Mourinho has already confirmed he intends to start young striker Marcus Rashford along with a number of other fringe players, while Luke Shaw will not travel to the country where he suffered a broken leg exactly one year ago in the Champions League defeat by PSV Eindhoven.
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