Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was targeted by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea last year but was blocked by an agreement between his agent and Juventus, the Frenchman’s agent Mino Raiola said Thursday.
Pogba, who left United for free to join Juventus in 2012 at the age of 18, returned to Old Trafford in a world record 105m euro deal earlier this summer.
But Raiola told Rai Sport: “Paul could have left (Juventus) last year because (Jose) Mourinho – then at Chelsea – really wanted him. “But Juventus and I had agreement: win the league title and the Champions League, then he can go.”
Juventus claimed a record-equalling fifth consecutive Serie A title last season but their progress in the Champions League was ended at the quarter-finals stage by Bayern Munich.
Raiola, meanwhile, said Pogba can expect a present from Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis because his transfer to United prepared the way for Juve to buy striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for 90m euros.
He added: “De Laurentiis should be giving Paul a present, because without his departure Juventus would never have bought Higuain, and he would never have been able to bank all that money.”
Meanwhile, Raiola accused Inter Milan’s former owner Erick Thohir of not developing the Serie A giants before selling them on to Chinese owners.
Indonesian businessman Thohir, who owns Major Soccer League club DC United, was part of a consortium that bought a 70% stake in Inter for a reported 250m euros in October 2013, before selling the club in June to China’s Suning Holdings Group.
He sold a 68.55% stake to Suning for a reported 270m euros but retained 31.05% and the club presidency.
Since Suning took over, the Nerazzurri — treble winners under Jose Mourinho in 2010 — have emerged as potential title rivals to five-times consecutive champions Juventus. Ahead of this weekend’s fixtures Inter sit third at four points behind leaders Juventus.
While Inter attracted Chinese interest because they were the first European club to visit China 38 years ago, Raiola labelled Thohir’s 2013 takeover “false”.
“Thohir didn’t serve Italian football well. I never believed in his project, it was false,” Raiola, who also represents Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, told Rai Sport. “He came, he fixed Inter up a little bit then he listed the company (on the Asian stock exchange). But there was no need for an Indonesian to do that, an Italian could have done the same.”
During Thohir’s time in charge, Inter’s transfer market activity was limited because the club had breached UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations in 2015.
The club was fined and also had to scratch key players from their Europa League squad list. Thohir, meanwhile, insisted that most new players would be coming through the club’s youth system. Thohir sold Inter to the Suning group in June, whose chairman and owner is Zhang Jindong.
While Thohir remains president in name, Zhang’s son Steven Zhang is now on the board, five of whose members are Chinese. AC Milan are also on the verge of Chinese ownership, having received a 100m euros down payment ahead of a full, 740m euro takeover by the end of the year.
According to the outspoken Raiola, another Serie A club should be in Chinese hands. He called on Roma’s American president James Pallotta to underline his intentions for the capital club — or sell it to Chinese owners.
Pallotta’s much-heralded plans for a new, all-purpose stadium have yet to be fully approved and Roma made no big-name signings in the close season.