English Premier League, Leagues, Manchester United, Paul Pogba, Real Madrid, Spanish Primera División, Story, Transfers

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends Paul Pogba, who has been absent for Manchester United with an injury.

Zinedine Zidane and the Real Madrid hierarchy remain at odds over the signing of Paul Pogba, with the coach “desperate” for the Manchester United midfielder but president Florentino Perez deeming him overpriced.

Madrid will look to strengthen their midfield next summer and Pogba has been a long-term target, with reports of a transfer resurfacing in the Spanish media on Wednesday. 

Sources have told ESPN that Zidane is desperate to sign Pogba but United would expect a fee well in excess of £120 million and Perez deems that excessive.

Real Madrid remain interested in adding to their midfield despite the emergence this season of Fede Valverde. The 21-year-old Uruguayan’s progression and energetic, box-to-box style has led some at the Bernabeu to argue that Pogba’s signing is unnecessary.

While there is disagreement over Pogba at the club, there is unanimity in targeting Napoli and Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz. As reported by ESPN FC, an initial meeting took place in October to discuss the 23-year-old joining Real Madrid next summer. Fabian, 23, is three years younger than Pogba, would be cheaper at between £80m and £100m, and would favour a move to Madrid over Barcelona or Manchester City.

Other midfield alternatives being considered include Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Ajax’s Donny van de Beek. The Danish playmaker’s Spurs contract expires in June next year, making him an affordable choice, albeit one that does not fit the same midfield profile. Van de Beek is the youngest option at 22, and a deal to bring him to Real Madrid was close to being agreed with Ajax this summer.

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Sources have told ESPN FC that Zidane is convinced by neither Eriksen nor van de Beek, though, and is pushing for Pogba or Fabian.

A January move would be unlikely as Zidane prefers to avoid the disruption of making midseason changes to his squad, with Real Madrid planning for the 2020 summer transfer window.

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