According to Football FanCast sources, Manchester United have been in talks with Zinedine Zidane for several months but the former Real Madrid manager will only agree to take the Old Trafford job if the club meet three key demands.
After a humbling defeat and disastrous performance in last weekend’s Northwest Derby at Anfield, which only highlighted the ever-expanding gap between Manchester United and the rest of the Premier League’s Big Six in terms of both style of play and results, Ed Woodward decided to pull the plug on Jose Mourinho’s time at the club – the Portuguese’s abrupt departure being announced on Tuesday morning.
Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed on an interim basis until the end of the season, but it’s no surprise that United are keen to hire a permanent manager with a proven record at the very top of the game. Zidane was not only a World Cup and Champions League winner as a player, but also lifted the latter accolade three times with Real Madrid after initially being drafted in as a nightwatchman following Rafa Benitez’s short-lived reign at the Bernabeu.
A source has told Football FanCast that United have been chasing Zidane’s services for several months already, suggesting that Woodward and the club’s board had been preparing for life after Mourinho for some time prior to his actual sacking. Zidane, however, is fully prepared to walk away from the opportunity to take over at Old Trafford if his three key demands aren’t met by the Red Devils.
Perhaps the most significant of the terms being imposed on United is Zidane’s insistence on not only Paul Pogba being sold, but furthermore the deal to happen before he’s officially appointed as the club’s new manager.
Football FanCast have been told that Zidane is not a fan of Pogba, despite both belonging to a very exclusive club of World Cup-winning French midfielders, and the Real Madrid legend doesn’t want one of his first duties at the club being to permanently dislodge a player who proved more powerful than the last manager.
Watch the video below to find out who the Playmaker FC squad are tipping to be the next Man Utd manager…
That’s not to say Pogba won a power battle with Mourinho as such, though. If anything, the incredibly public breakdown of their relationship only highlighted the baggage that comes with the former Juventus man.
He’s incredibly talented but inconsistent in attitude and frustratingly individualistic. More pertinently, he’s become a marketing force so vast that it’s actually become quite dangerous for United’s managers.
At times, it feels like Pogba’s profile is bigger than the club itself, something which often put Mourinho in a precarious position. Clearly, Zidane doesn’t want that same challenge to his authority from within his own dressing room.
While Zidane may want rid of one Frenchman in Pogba, he’s eager to bring another one to Old Trafford in Raphael Varane – his second demand to the club being a swoop for the Real Madrid centre-half.
Ironically, Mourinho’s adoration of a player he once described as the ‘best defender in the world‘ is no secret, and it was actually the club’s failure to prise Varane away from the Bernabeu in the summer that caused many of the problems the Portuguese suffered during his final season at Old Trafford.
As The Telegraph reported in August, United refused to pay for a new centre-half unless he was of the same calibre of Varane, a decision which undoubtedly raised tensions between Mourinho and Woodward as the Red Devils entered the season lacking an obvious leader in the heart of defence.
At times, Mourinho ended up playing midfielders Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic at centre-back, as United conceded 29 goals in 17 Premier League games.
But United were prepared to pay £100million for Varane last summer, only to discover that he wasn’t available, and even at the end of what looks set to be a disappointing season for the reigning European champions, it will be difficult to convince Real Madrid to sell. Transfermarkt value Varane at £72million, but due to his age, proven quality and experience, the Red Devils could well end up paying double that sum.
Football FanCast were also told that Zidane, in his third demand, wants to bring another player into the club – however, this second target remains unnamed. Considering Zidane’s insistence upon selling Pogba, an alternative central midfielder with creative qualities seems the most likely, although United are also short of an obvious right winger and both defensive flanks require fresh blood.