Pep Guardiola said he had “no regrets” after admitting he passed up the opportunity to sign Paul Pogba on the day of Manchester City’s derby defeat in April 2018.
The 29-year-old Manchester United midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he is set to leave Old Trafford. Pogba has struggled during his six-year stay in Manchester, winning only the EFL Cup and the Europa League.
Despite his United connections, many believe Guardiola can bring the best out of Pogba, and City is apparently mulling a move for him. Juventus, PSG, and Real Madrid are also rumored to be interested in the World Cup winner.
Of course, City has previously had the opportunity to sign Pogba. On the eve of the Manchester derby in April 2018, Guardiola told reporters that the player’s late agent Mino Raiola had given him the chance to bring Pogba to the Etihad three months earlier.
Raiola had previously labeled Guardiola as a “coward” and a “dog.” In response to the insults, the Spaniard stated: “I’ll respond; I’m not sure why I’m here. Finally, a nasty guy learns about my secrets. [Sarcasm] I’m a coward.
“I’m not sure why I’m a bad guy. I never speak with him, so I don’t know what he thinks of me. But being a man who offered me [fellow Manchester United midfielder Henrikh] Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us two months ago. Why?
“Why is he offering? He was interested in playing with Mhikitaryan and Pogba? So he has to defend his guys and understand that he can’t bring them to a guy like me, like a dog. And comparing a dog is inappropriate. It isn’t good. He must show respect for the dogs.”
Guardiola continued: “Pogba is a fantastic player… a top-tier talent… I declined the offer. We don’t have the money to pay for Pogba because he is so pricey. I’m taken aback because I’m a dog. He wants his team to come here. As a result, no. Not at all.”
Pogba then went on to humiliate Guardiola in the derby. He scored twice to help United come back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 and deny City the chance to win the Premier League against their local rivals. Guardiola’s team eventually won the title with 100 points.
Although City couldn’t afford Pogba at the time, they will be able to do so this summer. Guardiola’s team will be able to match his pay at United, which is thought to be around £300,000 per week and will be able to offer him a substantial signing-on bonus due to the lack of a transfer fee.
Pogba would not be the first player in the twenty-first century to cross the Manchester divide. Carlos Tevez did so in the summer of 2009… and City celebrated by erecting an ambitious “Welcome to Manchester” sign in the heart of the city.
Will City sign Pogba and greet him with a billboard? Keep an eye on this.