Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United to follow Zlatan Ibrahimovic coup with record £80m Paul Pogba deal

By Adam McKendry

Big spending Manchester United are stepping up their efforts to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford after Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed he was joining Jose Mourinho's side.

United will make an £80million move for Juventus ace Pogba but Mourinho plans to keep splashing the cash with Borussia Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan in his sights.

The bumper Pogba deal would be a club transfer record for United, smashing the £60million the club coughed up for Angel di Maria from Real Madrid.

Pogba, 23, left United in 2012 due to his frustration at a lack of game time, but the FA Cup winners are willing to break the bank to make him a Red Devil again.

The player's agent Mino Raiola also represents Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan and will be flying into Manchester today to finalise the deals.

Italian champions Juventus would be keen to hold onto the highly rated midfielder, however it has been suggested they would be willing to sell if they felt the offer was good enough.

Mourinho's side are the only team left bidding for the 23-year old after Real Madrid and Manchester City withdrew their interest earlier this week as they were unwilling to match United's higher bid.

It is believed that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will be flying out to Turin next week to hold talks with Juventus over Pogba's sale.

Woodward will hope that they have their other two signings sorted by that stage after a turbulent day yesterday for the FA Cup champions.

United had to deal with the surprise announcement on social media from Ibrahimovic that he would be joining the club, as well as an error from their online store that suggested a transfer had been completed for Mkhitaryan.

Striker Ibrahimovic put up a post on social media site Instagram yesterday afternoon indicating he would be joining United next season.

The 34-year old, who recently announced his retirement from international duty after Sweden were knocked out of Euro 2016, posted: "Time to let the world know. My next destination is @manchesterunited." Although the forward hasn't yet completed a medical or agreed personal terms with United, all the signs point towards the star striker arriving in Manchester next season.

It is more than likely he will join due to his desire to link up with old boss Jose Mourinho once more after Ibrahimovic described the Portuguese manager as one of the best he's worked with in his autobiography during his spell at Inter Milan.

It is likely the Swede will sign an initial one-year deal with the Red Devils with the option for a further year included.

Mkhitaryan also looks set to arrive at Old Trafford after the club's online store posted images of their away shirt yesterday with the Armenian's name on the back.

As part of a promotion to sell the new away shirt, the website posted pictures of it with Mkhitaryan's name on the back, however these were hastily removed and replaced with an error message after users on social media picked up on it.

The midfielder, 27, expressed his desire to join the FA Cup winners earlier this week, and it appears that United have done enough to thrash out a deal with Dortmund for a deal worth £31.7million.

It is believed Mkhitaryan will join on a four-year deal after he is granted a work permit. Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan will become Mourinho's second and third signings since taking over at United after he signed Villareal defender Eric Bailly last month.

The new signings are a real statement of intent from Mourinho as he looks to build a squad that will take the Red Devils back to the summit of the Premier League.

• Vicente del Bosque has announced he will retire from coaching when his Spain contract expires next month.

Del Bosque is the most successful coach in Spain history, leading his country to victory at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but he has now decided to call it a day after eight years in charge of La Roja.

The 65-year-old said: "Without any doubt, I have no intention of continuing as coach."

Belfast Telegraph


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