Conundrum-solving Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has backed midfielder Paul Pogba to prove the final piece of his Old Trafford jigsaw after the Old Trafford club beat Leicester to lift the FA Community Shield yesterday.
Summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic emerged as the match-winner inside the final 10 minutes, handing Mourinho his first piece of United silverware, after England forward Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Jesse Lingard’s first-half solo strike.
Pogba, who joined Juventus from United in 2012 for a compensation fee of £800,000, is set for a medical at his former club over the next few days and is expected to cost a world record £89m, surpassing the £85m Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale in 2013.
“It’s been a good market for us. [Eric] Bailly, [Paul] Pogba, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, Ibra [Ibrahimovic]; one defender, one midfielder, one creator, one striker, so I think the market was good for us. This squad is good,” said Mourinho, who dedicated his side’s victory to predecessor Louis van Gaal after the Dutchman guided United to FA Cup success in May.
“United is the perfect club to bring him to the level he wants to be. The Premier League is the perfect habitat for that.
“If you want to be the best player in the world, I think if you go to Barcelona or Real Madrid, you are in trouble because I don’t think the other two big guys [Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo] will let you develop to that level.
“Here he has the conditions to develop in the biggest worldwide championship, with a team that wants to bring Manchester United to the top again. We have everything to give him.
“Money he will get from any big club, that’s not the point. He comes because he knows the club, the city, many of the players and wants to be an important part of this Manchester United project.
“He is a big player who will, for sure, be important for a big club like Manchester United.”
After a low-key opening, the Wembley tussle sparked into life on 19 minutes as Vardy burst through the challenge of new United centre-half Eric Bailly and found Shinji Okazaki, whose curling effort was turned behind by Spain goalkeeper David de Gea.
Japan striker Okazaki met the resulting Marc Albrighton corner, only for his glanced near-post header to rebound off De Gea’s crossbar as defending Premier League champions Leicester probed for the lead in their first Community Shield appearance since 1971.
But it was United who opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark as FA Cup final hero Lingard took possession 40 yards from goal and sliced through a series of flimsy Leicester tackles before slotting past advancing Leicester stopper Kapser Schmeichel.
The Foxes equalised 10 minutes after the restart when Vardy, who turned down a move to Arsenal during the summer, latched onto a weary Marouane Fellaini backpass, rounded De Gea and guided the ball into the unguarded net.
Ibrahimovic snatched victory for United with seven minutes remaining. The Sweden hitman towered above Leicester skipper Wes Morgan to plant a downward header from Antonio Valencia’s dinked cross beyond Schmeichel, with the ball clipping the far post on its way into the net.