It appears as though Paul Pogba is ready to turn his back on Manchester United for the second time in his short career.
The Juventus midfielder could become the first £100million player this summer with Jose Mourinho believed to be prepared to make such an offer. Talks with agent Mino Raiola have reportedly been ongoing on an intermittent basis in between negotiations for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who he also represents.
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, Pogba has let it be known that he would prefer a move to Real Madrid rather than a return to Old Trafford. Better yet, if a bid from the Bernabeu does not materialise this summer, he has intermated he would prefer to stay at Juventus until it does.
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This basically means the end of days for Manchester United. Mourinho was ready to use the financial might of his new club to sign a player he clearly thinks a lot of. He also tried and failed to convince Roman Abramovich to pull out all the stops to sign him when at Chelsea.
But, as always, money is not the issue for executive vice chairman Ed Woodward. He has long attempted to break the £100m barrier, bidding several times for Gareth Bale only to be knocked back every time. It has also been suggested he bid £140m for Barcelona's Neymar last summer.
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Door still open
The report from Samuel Luckhurst also claims that Pogba has not closed the door to Manchester United, apparently suggesting that he would sit around a table and listen to any offer.
Pogba, 23, will also have to gauge whether or not Real Madrid are actually interested. Reports in Spain have claimed that president Florentino Perez is not exactly his biggest fan although it has been made clear that head coach Zinedine Zidane is.
Should Real Madrid make it clear they won't be moving to sign Pogba, it leaves him with few other alternatives than a return to the club he left in 2012.
Mourinho had wanted to make Pogba his marquee signing as well as a central point in his new-look Manchester United team. He believed the four-time Serie A winner would bring a captain's style to the centre of midfield, replacing the long-absent influence of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
Along with Ibrahimovic, Pogba's arrival would have signalled the kind of era that Woodward has been trying to install since taking over from David Gill in 2013. Megastars with mega wages winning mega trophies. It hasn't worked out so far and Pogba has no intention of making it easy for his former club.