Paul Pogba could be the world-record transfer fee if he signs for Manchester United for the reported price of £100 million or more. Extreme transfer fees have been a curse to an extent for many players and clubs involved. Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid for a world-record fee of £80 million back in 2009 and was, of course, a huge success. Gareth Bale, who signed also for Los Blancos for the same price, took the time to adjust to Madrid. For United, big-money transfers are a mixed bag. Juan Mata signed for a United in the January transfer window during David Moyes’ short time in Manchester. The dark side to the club-record fees at United is Angel Di Maria, who signed for Louis van Gaal in his first season in England. Di Maria cost United nearly £60 million in the fee alone. With Pogba at a fee could rise to close to double that with fees given to the Frenchman’s agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. These fees seem excessive but former England, Blackburn, and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer believes that an exorbitant price tag can actually benefit the player, as it did him after he signed with Newcastle. Shearer wrote about this in a column for The Sun:
“I knew that Manchester United and Newcastle were both interested in me.
“I had face-to-face meetings with both managers, Alex Ferguson and Kevin Keegan, and I was to-ing and fro-ing over which club to join.
“But then I thought ‘you know what, I’m going to go home’.”
There are parallels in Shearer’s transfer to Pogba’s. Shearer chose Newcastle over United because he could “go home”. For Pogba, United was his home until he left for Juventus in 2012. Obviously, a move back to France would be a literal move home, but Manchester has a bit of a home feeling for Pogba after spending his youth career with United. A transfer to Real Madrid, the only other club linked with obtaining his signature, would not have a home feeling about it. The pressure that the enormous fee brings to the player is more immense than ever before. Shearer knew it then and is aware of it now along with the difficulty of leaving a long-time club.
“People always get criticised for not being loyal in today’s football.”
“Well, I went back home and stayed there for ten years. And I had the time of my life. I played for my club, the club I supported — and that is every boy’s dream. And I loved being the world’s most expensive footballer. I thought it was a great title. I thrived on that. I remember everyone saying to me ‘no pressure on you then’ as a joke, to try and turn it around to say there was loads of pressure on me.
“But I loved it. Never, ever did I feel under pressure. Yes, I always felt it was a crazy fee — £15m was a stupid amount for a player back then. But I just thought, ‘Wow, someone’s prepared to pay that stupid amount for me’. It gave me great confidence to go out and play — and I think I gave them value for money.
“It is mad to think that now, 20 years on from my move to Newcastle, the world record transfer fee is about to be broken again — and for more than £90m. Never did I think it would become as big as it has done today. But that’s the way football has gone. That’s the effect of the TV money. And if Paul Pogba feels half as good as I did with that title, then he should be OK.”
For Pogba, this decision will surely be the biggest of his career. His prime years are upon him and if he decides to leave Juventus, he will have the weight of the world on his shoulders. All eyes will be on him whether he plays in Manchester or Madrid. If he chooses to return home to United, he will have immense pressure and the transfer fee will play a big part in that pressure. Shearer has faith in Pogba succeeding at United if he were to transfer back to the Theatre of Dreams. He is a confident player, and should be just fine with the label of most-expensive player in the world.