Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 2 weeks, you will be well aware of Manchester United’s interest in bringing back Paul Pogba to Old Trafford. The central midfielder left Manchester under a cloud 4 years ago when the French international decided against renewing his contract with the club, opting to join Juventus on a free-transfer. Pogba’s frustrations at his lack of first team opportunities gave him no choice but to exit Manchester and seek greener pastures elsewhere. The then 19-year-old explained how he begged Sir Alex Ferguson for a chance in the first team, but his words fell on deaf ears. “I said to Ferguson: ‘Play me, and I will show you if I’m ready or not,’ Then against Blackburn on December 31, 2011, I was on the bench. Ferguson put Rafael in midfield with Ji Sung Park. Then I gave up.” said Pogba. It is a quote that haunts everyone associated with Manchester United to this day, as since then, the Frenchman has gone from strength to strength and is now considered as one of the best players in the world. At just 23, there isn’t a club in the world that would reject the chance to sign Pogba, however, for a price of over £100 million only one club possesses the financial backing to be able to do so – Manchester United.
Given the history between the club and Pogba it would have been unthinkable for him to ever return to United once again, however, masses of news outlets and journalists have reported that an agreement between Pogba and Manchester United is done, with only the transfer and agent’s fee said to be blocking the pathway for his return.
Juventus are said to have rejected an £85 million bid from United last week, and are holding firm on their £100m+ valuation of their star player. Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, is said to want around £10-20m himself if the deal is completed, an astronomical fee in itself! Manchester United certainly have the financial backing to complete a deal in excess of £100 million, but it is a fee that has made many baulk – especially when considering the fact that he was allowed to leave for nothing just 4 years ago.
The truth is, only a very limited number of people know the full ins and outs of the transfer saga. It would be wrong to invest too much time and attention into the hundreds of stories that come out on a daily basis regarding the potential deal. As a United fan for many years, I don’t have to look back very far in order to remind myself of previous transfer saga’s that dragged on all summer long to no avail – (Sneijder, Vidal, Fabregas, Thiago). In just that list alone, the players mentioned all have a very large similarity in that they are all centre midfielders. This just reiterates the point that news outlets love to grasp the attention and pull the heart-strings of United fans who have cried out for a powerhouse midfielder ever since the retirement of Paul Scholes, who coincidentally believes that United would be stupid to sign Pogba for the amount reported – but that’s besides the point.
So with all that said, let’s imagine that Manchester United did indeed complete the signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus for a fee of over £100 million and the 6’3 tall Frenchman put pen to paper to a 5-year-deal worth £13 million a year. How would the Red Devil’s get their money’s worth?
Commercially Paul Pogba is a global superstar. He is one of the faces of the Adidas footballing brand who now also sponsor Manchester United in a huge 10-year-deal. Adidas will surely help subsidise the move in some sort of way for their poster-boy Pogba to join their biggest asset Manchester United. Assuming Pogba joins and receives the No.6 shirt as expected, shirt sales and merchandise will also be a big source of revenue in recuperating the money spent on the Frenchman. Pogba is the sort of player that makes a statement. Signing a player of that calibre would send shock waves through the footballing world. It would further demonstrate United’s desire to reach the top once again, and show off their sheer strength financially.
More importantly though, in footballing terms, Paul Pogba not only has the ability to match the world’s best, but also the experience that has seen him win four consecutive Italian league titles with Juventus, play in a Champions League and European Championship final with Juventus and France respectively, and claim a whole a host of other trophies during his time in Turin. His vast array of experience comes at such a high level in the game with the Frenchman playing on almost every big stage possible, and given his youthful age of 23 it shows that his maturity in the game is beyond that of many other top players.
Pogba is by no means the finished article, which is hugely surprising given his already world class ability. He is yet to hit his best years in the game and still has so much potential that awaits to be seen. He is the complete midfielder than can do it all. He can play almost anywhere in the middle of the park and possesses countless standout traits that Manchester United have lacked over the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s time.
Pogba is physically one of the best in the world, his power combines well with pace so much so that he seems almost perfectly suited to the Premier League and indeed Manchester United’s style of play. He is an outstanding dribbler of the ball and has exceptional ball control in order to help create an attack when further up the field. He is known for his impeccable shooting and has bagged his fair share of goals in the past, many of which coming from long-range. Defensively, Pogba boasts a tremendous physique that does him great favours when on the ball or putting a foot into a tackle. It is still widely debated what sort of midfield role Pogba is best suited to, a box-to-box midfielder wouldn’t be too wide of the mark, but then again he possesses the ability to provide goals, two-footed play, exquisite passing, strong and committed tackling (both standing and slide tackles), rock solid shielding of the ball and tireless running. No matter what role he plays, Pogba is undoubtedly an engine in the centre of the park and can provide world class service wherever he plays. £100m’s worth? Maybe not.
In a footballing era where Leicester City are the champions of England, John Stones is valued at £50 million, Graziano Pelle is the 6th highest paid footballer in the world and China are throwing £40m+ at every average player going, it is clear to see that the game has changed massively over the last few years. Football has become flooded with money and teams are becoming increasingly more wealthy each year. Maybe £100 million is extremely steep for Paul Pogba, or any player for that matter, but Manchester United are in dire need for a player of his calibre. This is a deal that would go down in history as the most expensive transfer of all time, but after all, it’s not my money, and if Manchester United can subsidise the move unlike any other team in the world then let’s do it.