By Neil Robinson
(Reuters) – Jose Mourinho has dropped a heavy hint that Paul Pogba’s protracted transfer from Juventus to Manchester United is close to completion.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield with Leicester City, Manchester United’s manager confirmed he expected one more player to arrive at Old Trafford before Aug. 14.
Although he said was reluctant to talk about players from other teams, he said he is one short of his intended first-team squad of 23 players plus three goalkeepers.
“We have 22 and we are going to have 23,” Mourinho told a news conference. “We are going to get a very good midfielder,” he added.
“Paul Pogba is a Juventus player until he isn’t, officially, so we stay like this,” Mourinho said of the midfielder, whose 100 million pounds ($130.30 million) move from the Italian side has been heavily trailed by British media.
“The market closes on Aug. 31 but my club try to do everything to close our market by Aug. 14.”
Mourinho said he intended to use Sunday’s game between his FA Cup holders and Premier League champions Leicester — the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season — to give a run out to as many members of his squad as possible.
“We can make six substitutions instead of three, so that gives me the chance to give minutes to people,” he said.
“It also gives me the chance to play some players I know can’t play 90 minutes, as they have no condition to play for 90 minutes. It will be a little bit of everything. Of course, we are going to try to win it.”
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri also said he expected the game to be competitive.
“We will give the maximum and so will Manchester. It will be a true, true match,” said Ranieri, for whom it will be his first time as a manger at Wembley.
Ranieri also said that he was hopeful that key midfielder Riyad Mahrez would stay at Leicester despite being linked with a move to Arsenal. “The chairman told me we want to keep everybody,” said Ranieri.
Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on Thursday posted a picture on social media of him with his arms round Mahrez, adding that the player was not for sale.
($1 = 0.7675 pounds)
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Toby Davis)