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Mourinho: United don't need Champions League to attract world's best

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho defended the performances of Paul Pogba and praised the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic since arriving.

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has denied that Manchester United need to be in the Champions League to attract world-class players to the club. 

United have failed to qualify for the elite European club competition in two of the last three seasons and are six points adrift of fourth place in the Premier League.

But the 54-year-old – speaking before his side reached the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday – said the acquisitions of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan prove that Old Trafford maintains a strong pull for players.

"Manchester United is very powerful, it doesn't need to be in the Champions League to attract the best players," Mourinho told BBC Sport ahead of the 1-0 victory over Rostov at Old Trafford. 

"Zlatan could still be in Paris. Mkhitaryan could be at Borussia Dortmund. Pogba could be at Juventus. We were able to attract the players because they know that Manchester United sooner or later will get there.

"If any player decides not to come because of that, then I am happy that they are not coming."

Mourinho also defended Pogba's form after recent criticism and hailed the influence of 35-year-old Ibrahimovic, who has scored 26 goals this season. 

"It isn't easy for Pogba," he said, "The country is so different to Italian football. It is hard for him. I'm not disappointed at all. The most important thing is his personality. He is professional and he will improve for sure.

"Zlatan is not a surprise for me. I know the personality, I know the body, I know the ambition that brought him here.

"Could he do it in the best league in the world? He has done it everywhere else. He's doing amazingly well."

Pogba was taken off with an injury on Thursday.

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