Paul Pogba appears to be closing in on a move to Manchester United whether he likes it or not. When he originally left Old Trafford for Juventus in 2012, he probably planned for it to be a one-way trip.
But times have changed. Sir Alex Ferguson is gone and the Red Devils are more powerful – financially, not in football – than ever before. They appear ready to pay £100million to bring him back and that is a fee Juventus are unlikely to reject.
For Pogba, it is a bittersweet opportunity. Here is a chance for him to become the most expensive player of all time, setting a new record that is likely to stand for many years to come. But deep down, it may not actually be the move he was hoping for.
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It has been widely reported that the 23-year-old actually prefers a move to La Liga where Barcelona and Real Madrid have both shown an interest in the past. The latter has been an active player in this transfer saga but it has since become clear that even Los Blancos can no longer compete with the Premier League juggernauts.
So Pogba has to accept that his dream move to the Bernabeu will never happen, not unless he stays at Juventus, has an awful season so his value drops sufficiently, and then hopes his hero Zinedine Zidane is still in charge at Real Madrid.
The phone call
Anyway moving on to why you came here in the first place. A report from El Confidencial has claimed that both Zidane and Pogba shared a "desperate" phone call in a last ditch attempt to get the latter in a white shirt.
It states: "A last desperate telephone call…with each man seemingly wanting the player to end up at Madrid, and urging the other to do what they can to help that happen."
Lack of power
But, unfortunately, there is little they can do. Pogba is being pushed to Old Trafford by his agent Mino Raiola, who certainly has a few favours to repay to Ed Woodward. The Red Devils chief has agreed deals for Raiola's other clients, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, earning the Italian a hefty commission each time.
Meanwhile, Zidane is finding out just how little power he has at Real Madrid with president Florentino Perez retaining control of all major comings and goings. The French legend, who earned plenty of kudos after winning the Champions League, would appear happy to sell several first-team stars in order to raise the necessary funds but has so far been blocked from doing so.
For instance, Alvaro Morata could have gone to Chelsea for £60m last week but the bid was knocked back. Equally, a new report from Marca has claimed Real Madrid could have sold James Rodriguez for a similar price yet refused to do so.
Like Romeo and Juliet, this appears to be a relationship destined for tragedy. While they struggle to be together, the power of two huge footballing families seem determined to keep them apart.
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