Manchester United are willing to offer defender Matteo Darmian in an effort to land Paul Pogba this summer, with the Premier League side hopeful that the player-exchange-plus-cash deal will be enough to fend off interest from Real Madrid.
The Independent understands that Jose Mourinho has made Pogba his top target this summer in a bid to strengthen United’s under-performing midfielder and sign a player that he can build his new squad around.
Mourinho is keen to press on with his transfer plans and, after completing the £30m signing of former Villarreal defender Eric Bailly this week, he will resume efforts to sign Pogba in a deal that could cost as much as £78m.
According to The Sun, United have seen a £60m offer for 23-year-old Pogba rejected, but Juventus have enquired about the availability of right-back Darmian and the Italian could be offered as a makeweight in negotiations.
After a disappointing debut season at Old Trafford, United are willing to sell Darmian and hope to make as much of the £12m he cost them back through his departure, although that could be now be launched straight into the deal to re-sign Pogba.
Despite making a strong start to the season after his summer move from Torino, Darmian’s form dropped off and he was also hampered by injuries throughout the course of the campaign, leading to former manager Louis van Gaal replacing the Italian at right-back with Antonio Valencia for the end of the season.
For Pogba though, a move back to United would likely come in turning down a transfer to Real Madrid. The Champions League winners are being linked with a £65m offer that will also include midfielder Isco, with the 11-time European champions hoping that the combined bid – worth in excess of £100m – will be enough to tempt Juventus to part ways with Pogba.
The France international left United in 2012 after a public falling out with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Scot growing increasingly frustrated with Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, over negotiations for a new contract. Pogba eventually left the club and signed for Juventus for an £800,000 compensation deal, and with Juventus valuing Pogba at €100m [£78m], any successful move would represent the biggest loss on a former player in football history.
Pogba though has insisted that he is focused on the upcoming Euro 2016 campaign – which France get underway on Friday night in the tournament curtain-raiser against Romania. After being pressed on his future in a recent interview with ESPN.co.uk, Pogba admitted that he is solely focused on the Euros and then his summer holiday, meaning that his future may not be sorted until the final weeks of the summer transfer window.
“You tell me. I'm asking you,” Pogba answered when asked if he’d leave the Serie A champions. “I'm thinking about the match to come. Then there's the Euros, and after that the holidays.”
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