Costly own goal

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LONDON — The decision to bring the summer transfer window to an early close compared to Europe was equivalent to firing a “bullet in the foot”, super-agent Jon Smith said.

Smith, who numbered among his clients legendary Argentine Diego Maradona and Dutchman Ruud Gullit, said Fifa’s uniform regulations were due to come into effect next year.

The Premier League opted to change their system earlier, leading to difficulties in dealing with European rivals — whose window does not close till Aug 31.

Because of the early deadline, clubs this time were seen as “desperate”, leaving foreign sides asking themselves: “Why should we reduce our prices.”

“That’s where it’s a bullet in the foot,” said Smith.

Smith said Manchester United, and rumours concerning their French World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba’s future, are a case in point.

Pogba, who moved to United for a then-world-record £89 million from Juventus in 2016, is said to be attracting interest from Barcelona amid reported tension with manager Jose Mourinho.

“United are sitting there, let’s say three days ago, and know (Mino) Raiola (Pogba’s agent) is in Barcelona, and with Juventus,” said Smith.

“So do they try replacing him in case he goes, or will they just take a chance and wait and see?

“Barcelona could buy him till the end of August but United can’t get a replacement.” — AFP