Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho believes Paul Pogba 'belongs' at the level of Barcelona and Real Madrid stars and believes he gave credence to his claim during the Red Devils' pre-season defeat by the Blaugrana on Wednesday night (26 July).
Ernesto Valverde's side outperformed United in Washington and deservedly secured victory courtesy of Neymar's first-half strike. Mourinho had no qualms with the defeat, citing the world-class personnel that Barcelona can call upon as the reason why they reign supreme.
Mourinho believes he and the rest of the football world must 'accept' that the best players in the world play for either of the two Spanish giants, but the former Chelsea boss thinks Pogba, who re-joined Manchester United last summer, showed himself worthy of being considered on the same level as Barcelona's superstars and Real Madrid's 'Galacticos'.
"I think in this moment the best players are in these two clubs Barcelona and Madrid and you have to accept that as a reality," Mourinho was quoted as saying by Eurosport. "Look at Messi and Neymar. There is only one Messi and one Neymar. And one Suarez, Iniesta, Pique, Ronaldo, Bale, Modric, Toni Kroos. There is only one each of those players."
"And as an opponent on the bench, like I am, it is beautiful to see their relation with the ball but one of my players today – Paul Pogba – showed the level and he belongs to that level."
Manchester United beat off competition from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona in order to sign Pogba from Italian champions Juventus for a world-record £89m fee last summer.
The France international had trouble showing what he is truly capable of last season and was scrutinised at every turn, but Mourinho has been thrilled by the 24-year-old's performances during Manchester United's pre-season tour of America, though the Portuguese is still looking to bolster his midfield options ahead of the upcoming campaign.
Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic is high on Mourinho's agenda but United may have to pay £50m in order to prise the Serbia international away from Stamford Bridge.