London — Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has warned the club not to sell France World Cup star Paul Pogba and instead to focus on strengthening the squad.
Speculation about the midfielder’s future is rife, with reports of interest from Barcelona, but Ferdinand has told executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward he must keep hold of the 25-year-old player.
Manager Jose Mourinho has already predicted a "difficult season" if United do not do more business before the Premier League transfer window shuts on Thursday.
Ferdinand, who made more than 450 appearances for the club, wants Pogba to stay and Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld to come in.
Referring to reports that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was looking at the Camp Nou as a possible new home for his player, Ferdinand said: "Don’t you dare allow this ED... #MUFC is Pogba’s home!! Silence these rumours ASAP & get @AlderweireldTob through the door."
United start their Premier League campaign on Friday at home to Leicester and, speaking on Sunday, Mourinho told MUTV: "My CEO knows what I want and I still have a few days to wait and see what happens.
"The other clubs who compete with us are really strong and already have fantastic teams. Or they are investing massively like Liverpool, who are buying everything and everybody," he said.
United’s build-up to the new campaign has been dominated by Mourinho’s clear frustration over transfers, which has brought his relationship with Woodward into the spotlight.
The only arrivals at Old Trafford in the off-season have been Brazilian midfielder Fred, Portuguese teenage defender Diogo Dalot and back-up goalkeeper Lee Grant from Stoke.
Thibaut Courtois’s failure to report to Chelsea training has heaped pressure on new manager Maurizio Sarri to find a new goalkeeper just two days before the Premier League transfer window closes.
The 26-year-old Belgium international, linked with a move to Real Madrid, was granted an extended rest after his country finished third at the World Cup, but did not turn up for training on Monday.