Guardiola says Paul Pogba was offered to Man City in January
City manager claims that Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were offered by their agent
Pep Guardiola has claimed that Manchester City were offered Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Pep Guardiola has said he was offered Manchester United’s Paul Pogba this season by Mino Raiola, with Manchester City’s manager rounding on the agent, who last month branded him “a coward, a dog”.
Relations between Pogba and José Mourinho have been strained and the midfielder was dropped in February. Guardiola claimed he was invited to sign Pogba two months ago but it appears he was referring to the January window, particularly as he said Raiola also offered him Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who joined Arsenal that month.
Guardiola’s claim, if true, indicates Raiola was trying to engineer a move for Pogba even before the player lost his starting place. The first indication of problems between Pogba and Mourinho came when the player was withdrawn at Tottenham on 31 January. The France international is expected to start at City on Saturday.
Guardiola mentioned Pogba when asked about Raiola’s verbal attack on him. “I will answer him; I don’t understand why I am,” he said. “Finally, the people discover my secrets – a bad guy. I’m a coward. I don’t understand why I am a so bad guy. I never speak with him so his opinion [about me], I don’t know. But being a guy who two months ago offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?
“Why he offer? He was interested in Mhikitaryan and Pogba to play with us? So he has to protect his players and has to know he cannot bring the players to a guy like me, like a dog. And comparing a dog is bad. It’s not good. He has to respect the dogs.”
Pressed about Pogba, Guardiola said: “Pogba is an incredible player … A top, top player.”
City’s manager was sarcastic when asked what he thought of the offer. “I said no,” he said. “We don’t have the money enough to buy Pogba because he is so expensive. I’m surprised because I am a dog. He wants his players to come to here. So, no. No way.
“I am not a good guy. He deserves his players to play with better guys. But, he knows as well I am a top manager. Thank you.”
Raiola’s dislike of Guardiola stems from the manager’s treatment at Barcelona of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell, another of his clients. The agent told the Dutch magazine Quote: “Pep Guardiola, the coach, is fantastic. As a person he’s an absolute zero. He’s a coward, a dog. He’s a classic priest: ‘Do as I tell you – don’t do what I do.’ If Manchester City win the Champions League this season it will emphasise what a good coach he is – but I’ll hate it.”
Guardiola, asked who else he did not like, said: “I have a lot. One day I will tell you a list.”
He has a managerial rivalry with Mourinho that has been acrimonious but he brushed off the suggestion that securing the title with a win against United would be sweeter because of this.
“Listen, when we arrived here it’s okay, I understand: it’s Pep arrives and they are both together a year,” Guardiola said. “But it’s now two years and nothing happened in a special way. What I want to feel is [winning]the toughest league by far. The most satisfaction is from what we have done with our team, to win the Premier League, to feel that title, if we are able to, and we will remember it. I remember when I was a young boy seeing Sir Alex Ferguson in the beginning win titles [with United]– that’s beautiful, that is what I want to live with my guys and celebrate it.
“Tomorrow if we don’t do it, OK … It’s not about Pep v José. In the end it’s 2018, we [will have been] the better team and that’s what we want to live if it happens.” – Guardian service