Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane admits he admires Paul Pogba but refused to comment on a potential transfer bid for the Manchester United midfielder.
Pogba’s Old Trafford future appears increasingly uncertain and he has been repeatedly linked with a big-money summer switch to the Bernabeu.
Zidane has a major rebuilding job on his hands in the Spanish capital at the end of a torrid campaign in which the club have sacked two managers and currently sit 18 points adrift of champions Barcelona.
But the Frenchman, who was reappointed eight weeks ago after leaving last summer, would not be drawn on speculation linking him with a move for compatriot Pogba.
“I said that he’s a good player, but you could ask me about another player and I’d tell you the same thing,” said Zidane, according to Real’s website.
“I said that he’s a good player and also that I know him. I’m not going to say any more because if things work out well, you’re excused, but if you say something daft…
“Pogba is a Manchester United player, he’s a very good one but he plays for Manchester United.
“We’ll see at the end of the season who goes and who stays. I didn’t say anything about us signing Pogba. I’m not going to say anything until things are done”.
Real are destined to finish third in LaLiga behind bitter foes Barcelona and city rivals Atletico Madrid, while their hopes of a fourth successive Champions League title were ended by Ajax a week before Zidane’s return.
Los Blancos have three fixtures remaining, starting with Sunday’s visit of Villarreal.
Zidane, whose team have taken just two points from their last four away games, is keen to return to home soil and has urged his players to restore the pride of the Real fans as a difficult campaign draws to a close.
“We want to continue our winning run at the Bernabeu. We’ve got the chance to do just that and to show everyone that we’re keen to end the season strongly and put in good performances,” said Zidane.
“We enjoy playing at the Bernabeu and we’re going to try and make sure that the fans are proud of all of the players.
“We’ve had our struggles, the season has been a tough one and they’re aware of the fact. But we want to, at the very least, put in a good performance tomorrow”.
Zidane, who will once again be without injured trio Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Odriozola this weekend, has been in contact with former Real team-mate Iker Casillas.
Goalkeeper Casillas, now playing for Porto, was taken to hospital this week after suffering a heart attack.
“The first thing I want to do is to send my support to Iker on the club’s behalf,” said Zidane.
“I sent him a message yesterday and he’s in good spirits and is doing better. We send him all of our strength.
“He has to be relaxed, recover properly and focus on resting. He looks to be in good spirits”.
Villarreal, in 14th place, can banish any lingering relegation fears in Madrid.
Head coach Javi Calleja told his club’s website: “Winning there would be ideal, especially so we would have a pay-off for all the hard work we’ve put in so we could confirm staying up.
“They’re one of the best teams in the world with players who’ve won everything and we know how difficult getting a positive result would be.
“It will be complicated, but we trust ourselves to play well to get the three points.”
Striker Carlos Bacca is an injury doubt for the visitors, while Toko Ekambi is suspended.