Barcelona’s star-studded dressing room want Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba to join the club.
Pogba is friends with international team-mates Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele but it also understood that influential voices such as Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi believe the club would benefit from the presence and power that the French World Cup winner could provide.
Manager Ernesto Valverde is also keen on the deal but Barcelona scouts are split on the midfielder, with some believing that the club’s tika-taka model requires midfield players who take less risks on the ball and have greater positional sense.
Yet the prevailing view of the Barcelona dressing room after the dramatic Champions League quarter-final defeat by Roma last season – Barcelona lost 3-0 away from home, surrendering a 4-1 advantage from the first leg – was that the team now require greater brawn to accompany the panache that has for so long defined their philosophy.
Pogba is perceived as possessing the blend of technical and physical talents to provide the remedy but at Old Trafford, there are doubts over Barcelona’s financial capacity to achieve a deal after their most recent accounts showed that while revenue is expected to hit €960m (£843m) for this season, profits are only coming in at €11m (£9.6m).
United would expect to recoup the £89m they committed to bringing Pogba to Old Trafford, while agent Mino Raiola will also demand a hefty fee in addition to Pogba’s salary demands.
Pogba’s relationship with Jose Mourinho is at breaking point after he told the United manager he wants to leave for Barcelona and his public criticism of the manager’s tactical decisions.
Pogba, who captained United in several games at the start of the season, has subsequently been stripped of the armband and told by the manager he will never captain the club again under his watch.
Pogba endured an inconsistent international break for France, as he was substituted with Didier Deschamps’ side 2-0 down against Iceland last week before the team recovered to draw as Pogba watched on from the dugout.
He had another poor first half as France went 1-0 down at home to Germany on Tuesday night. He was caught in possession on the halfway line in the build up to the Germany penalty but his second-half response was excellent as the world champions came back to win 2-1.
France captain Hugo Lloris defended Pogba, saying: ‘He has status in the UK, maybe because of his transfer fee. Sometimes people do not judge him fairly. His performances at United are far from as bad as people make out. When it matters, he turns up.’