Paul Pogba was offered to Manchester City, reveals Pep Guardiola in stunning admission

Manchester United's Paul Pogba was offered to Manchester City in what would have been a hugely controversial cross-city switch. (Reuters)
Updated 06 April 2018
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Paul Pogba was offered to Manchester City, reveals Pep Guardiola in stunning admission

  • Top agent Mino Raiola discussed move away from Old Trafford for club's record buy
  • Guardiola: 'I said no. We don’t have enough money to buy Pogba'
LONDON: Pep Guardiola has rejected a proposal to add Paul Pogba to his formidable Manchester City squad. The offer arrived around “two months ago” from Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, according to the City manager who made the stunning revelation ahead of the Manchester derby on Saturday.
Manchester United’s record signing was at that point embroiled in a dispute with Mourinho over his position and defensive responsibilities within, and his general contribution to, the team. After failing to secure a pay rise for his star client on the back of Alexis Sanchez’s January move to Old Trafford, Raiola began canvassing the interest of other leading clubs in Pogba with a view to a summer transfer.
Raiola’s efforts included proposing the most controversial deal possible — a cross-Manchester move from United to City. On top of the sheer audacity of trying to tempt the Abu Dhabi-owned club into bidding for one of United’s most valuable assets, Raiola’s strategy involved placing the France midfielder under the stewardship of a coach he recently described as “an absolute zero ... a coward, a dog."
Referring to Raiola’s comments in an interview with Dutch publications Quote, Guardiola said he was surprised Pogba’s representative had even considered negotiating a transfer to City. “I am surprised because I am a dog,” said Guardiola. “So if I’m a dog he cannot join his players to here. No way.
“Why he offered if we were interested in Pogba and [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan to play with us? I'm a bad guy, so he has to protect his players, so he has to know he cannot bring his players to a guy like me, like a dog.
“And comparing [me to] a dog is bad. It's not good. He has to respect the dogs.”
Raiola's conflict with Guardiola is long standing, with the agent criticising the Catalan's handling of Zlatan Ibrahimovic during their single season together at Barcelona in 2009-10. “Pep Guardiola, the coach, is fantastic,” Raiola told Quote earlier this month. “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 told Zlatan to go to him if he ever had any problems or complaints. But then he just ignored him and wasn’t playing him. He didn’t even say 'hello’ to Zlatan. Guardiola did the same to Maxwell, who is a lovely lad. So I told Zlatan to go and park his Ferrari in the manager’s spot.”
Asked for his response to Raiola's comments on the eve of a match in which Pogba's United will attempt to stop City from securing the Premier League title against them, Guardiola initially declined to comment. The Catalan then said he had “a question” about Raiola's behaviour.
“I am agreed with him,” Guardiola said. “Finally, the people discover my secrets: I'm a bad guy. I'm a coward. I never speak with him ... so maybe Ibra explained many things about me. But being a bad guy, like two months ago he offered Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?”
Guardiola said Pogba was “an exceptional player — a top, top player”, but that City – who have committed an unprecedented €586million to transfer fees alone over his two campaigns at the club — could not afford the deal. “I said no. We don’t have enough money to buy Pogba because he’s so expensive.”
Mourinho is unlikely to take well to Guardiola’s public intervention into an issue that is of critical importance to his preparations for a third campaign as United manager. Should his team lose at City on Saturday, the English title will be decided on the earliest date since 1956.
Asked on Friday about offering Pogba to City, Raiola told BBC Sport: “I never spoke to Pep Guardiola. I would not speak to him about players, I would speak to Manchester City. They are a fantastic club with a fantastic manager.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”