'Pogback': Pogba near to joining United for world-record fee
FILE - In this Monday, May 30, 2016 file photo, France's Paul Pogba looks on during a friendly soccer match between France and Cameroon at the La Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes, western France. Manchester United says Paul Pogba has been granted permission to have a medical examination to finalize his transfer to the English club from Juventus. United made the announcement in a one-line statement on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016 under the hashtag “Pogback.” (AP Photo/David Vincent, file)
STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Paul Pogba is close to joining Manchester United for a world-record transfer fee, with manager Jose Mourinho saying Sunday the France midfielder will be at the right club "to be the best player in the world."
Pogba has been given permission by Juventus to have a medical examination to complete his return to Old Trafford, United said. The English club made the announcement in a one-line statement under the hashtag "Pogback."
Pogba left United to join Juventus in 2012, reportedly for 800,000 pounds (now $1.05 million) in compensation. He is set to return for a fee of around 105 million euros ($116.4 million), which would eclipse the 101 million euros that Real Madrid spent to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham in 2013.
"I don't think Real were upset when they broke the record with Gareth Bale or Cristiano (Ronaldo). I don't think it's a reason to be sad — it's a reason to be proud," Mourinho said.
"Football is crazy and the market has become crazy. What you think this season is crazy, you realize three years later it's not crazy anymore."
United's statement said the medical would take place at the club's training complex, but didn't say when.
Pogba would be the club's fourth signing since Mourinho replaced Louis van Gaal in May as manager of United, the record 20-time English champion. Defender Eric Bailly, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic have already moved to Old Trafford this offseason.
"Finally," Mourinho said, when asked about Pogba's impending arrival following United's 2-1 win over Leicester in the Community Shield. "It's amazing that such a good player is with us. Finally we have him."
"United is the perfect club to bring him to the level he wants to be," Mourinho added. "The Premier League is the perfect habitat for that, if you want to be the best player in the world. If you go to Barcelona or Real Madrid, you are in trouble because I don't think the other two big guys (Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) will let you. Here he is in the most-seen, worldwide, championship which is absolutely incredible, with a team which wants to bring Manchester United to the top again. We have everything to give him and we know the reasons why he wants to come to us."
Pogba's expensive return to Old Trafford follows a bitter split four years ago. The then-United manager Alex Ferguson accused Pogba of not showing United "any respect" and insisted he was happy to let Pogba leave.
Now the Frenchman is among the brightest young talents in the game after winning four successive Serie A titles with Juventus and becoming a regular for his national team.
"Money, he would get at any big club," Mourinho said. "He comes because he knows the club, knows the city, many of the players and wants to be an important part of the project. Hopefully everything goes well."