Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 18, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Manchester City were offered the chance to sign Manchester United’s Paul Pogba during the January transfer window, according to City manager Pep Guardiola.
“I said no. We don’t have the money to buy Pogba because he is so expensive,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday as he attacked the conduct of agent Mino Raiola.
Guardiola also suggested Raiola offered him then United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan shortly before his move to Arsenal in part-exchange for Alexis Sanchez.
City will win this season’s Premier League title if they beat second-placed United at the Etihad on Saturday.
There is no suggestion that United had given their approval for Pogba –- signed for a club-record fee of £89 million ($125 million, 102 million euros) from Juventus in 2016 –- to be offered to City.
Guardiola’s ire was aimed solely at Raiola, with whom he has had a long-running feud dating back to his Barcelona days.
That feud was reignited two weeks ago when Raiola called Guardiola a “zero”, a “coward” and a “dog” after former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of his clients, moved from Old Trafford to join the LA Galaxy in the United States’ Major League Soccer.
Raiola has long believed Guardiola forced Ibrahimovic out of Barcelona in 2011, a year before they won the Champions League –- a competition the Sweden forward has never won.
“Finally, the people discover my secrets –- I am a bad guy, I’m a coward,” Guardiola said Friday with heavy sarcasm.
“So if I’m a bad guy, and he (Raiola) has to protect his players, then he has to know he cannot bring the players (to) a guy like me, who is a dog.”