Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed they were close to signing Paul Pogba ahead of Manchester United.
The 26-year-old French midfielder returned to Old Trafford in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3m.
During a four-year association with Italian powerhouse Juventus, he would go from being one of Europe’s most promising footballers to becoming – on his day – one of the best midfielders in the world.
His time with Juve saw him win four consecutive league titles as well as reaching the 2015 Champions League final, but The Old Lady would go on to lose 3-1 against Barcelona in Berlin.
By now Pogba was among Europe’s most wanted but he’d remain for a further season in Turin before saying goodbye to his teammates and manager Massimiliano Allegri following Euro 2016.
One club keenly interested were Barcelona, who had earlier informed Juve of their willingness to sign him, though when it came to satisfying them financially they were hard-pressed to part with the amount needed to win his signature which came as no problem for United.
“In the summer of 2015, Paul Pogba was playing in Turin and we simply told Juve that, if one day they decide to sell the player, we would be interested,” he told ESPNFC.
“When they sold the player, they told us what the offer would have to be and we couldn’t afford that amount of money at the time.
“So, he went to United, and he’s making them better as a team because he’s one of the stars of the world of football right now.”
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We meet again
As mentioned, Pogba has tasted one Champions League final to date.
If he’s to reach another this season then United will need to get past Barcelona who they square off against in the quarter-finals. The last two meetings between the clubs, who share eight European Cups, saw Barça come out on top in the 2009 and 2011 finals.
Pogba, a player transformed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will be key to United’s chances.
Since the Norwegian tactician himself returned to Old Trafford, to sit on the dugout after succeeding Jose Mourinho, the French international has scored nine goals and created a further seven across 19 matches.