Rooney on Pogba and Mourinho's feel-good factor at Man Utd
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is excited by the prospect of Paul Pogba becoming his team-mate once again, even though he admits the French midfielder is a bruising opponent to face on the training ground.
In an extended interview with Daily Mail reporter Martin Samuel, Rooney has welcomed the imminent return of Pogba to United in a transfer from Juventus that looks set to break the world transfer record.
The transfer would come four years after Pogba was allowed to leave Old Trafford for nothing following a contract dispute between his agent and United manager Alex Ferguson, with Rooney excited by the prospect of the 23-year-old returning to Manchester.
“I hope he is going to want to return to United and prove he’s a top-class player,” stated Rooney of a player who is expected to seal a move back to United in a deal with up to €120m.
“If he is excited to play for us, we’ll be excited to have him back. I’m sure he’ll feel there is unfinished business, and it would be a very big statement by the club if they can make it happen.”
Rooney went on to suggest Pogba was one of the more robust opponents he has faced on the training ground, as he suggested he was left to nurse a few bruises after his clashes with the leggy midfielder.
“He was one of those players who, when you trained against him, somehow he would just hurt you. A knee in your side, bump into you, I don’t think he meant to do it, but it just happened,” he continued.
“You didn’t even need to get into a tackle. Just go next to him and you’d find an elbow or some other sharp bit. So, if he comes, I’m looking forward to that again! But he had great ability, some of the things he could do, and he’s gone up a level since he left us.”
Rooney went on to suggest United’s moves to recruit Jose Mourinho as manager and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer has changed the mood around the club, as he hopes the good times are ready to roll once again.
“I think the players feel this is more like the old Manchester United,” he added.
“It’s not just the new signings, we’ve got Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford from last season who made such an impact. We’re in a very good spot now, we think we can challenge for the Premier League.”
Rooney was talking ahead of his testimonial match against Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, which will mark home debuts for Mourinho, Ibrahimovic and additional new arrivals Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
If Pogba completes his move back to United in the coming days, he may be another high profile star added to the guest list for a game that will mark Rooney’s 12-year stay at Old Trafford, with profits from the game being donated to NSPCC, Claire House Children’s hospice, Alder Hey Children's hospital and the Manchester United Foundation.