Reports from Catalonia suggest Barcelona have backed away from Juventus’ Paul Pogba and won’t enter the summer bidding.
Mundo Deportivo claims Barca prevented Pogba moving to Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain this summer as they wanted him next year, but a row with his agent, Mino Raiola, will see La Blaugrana look elsewhere.
It’s suggested the Barca board didn’t take kindly to Raiola’s involvement with Joan Laporta in the summer’s Presidential elections, with it described as ‘inelegant.’
The report adds that Barca’s cooling off is why Raiola has been so vocal lately in linking Pogba to Barca, although he recently appeared on Italian radio and claimed there was little chance of Pogba going to Camp Nou.
Pogba was said to want to go to Barca, particularly after playing against and losing to Barca in the 2015 Champions League final.
Juve were said to be holding out for a €100m fee, a price Barca were reluctant to pay but potentially willing considering the midfielder is only 22.
Ariedo Braida remains in contact with Juve counterpart Beppe Marotta, it’s noted, but other targets for next summer are taking precedence.
Coach Luis Enrique and sporting director Robert Fernandez want a centre-back and a striker for next year’s squad, with Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao and Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos both mentioned.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is touted as a forward option, as is Marco Reus and Domenico Berardi, as well as a number of young players, including Benfica’s Gonzalo Guedes.
Enrique is also said to still want Celta Vigo’s Nolito in the winter transfer window, but Robert is looking at cheaper options.
Mundo Deportivo elsewhere name Marco Verratti, Koke and Ilkay Gundogan as candidates for midfield if the Pogba operation is truly closed.
It’s also noted that Pogba was wanted as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta and an option in the other midfield roles, but the priority now is finding cover for Sergio Busquets.
The impressive contribution of Sergi Roberto and Alen Halilovic’s development at Sporting Gijon are cited as reasons why Barca’s objectives have changed, as well as the signings of Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal and the renewal of Rafinha.