Sir Alex Ferguson has given his seal of approval to Manchester United’s pursuit of Paul Pogba after meeting with Jose Mourinho, as United move closer to sealing a world record transfer for the France international. Mourinho has been keen to work closely with Ferguson, given the Scot’s legendary status at Old Trafford, so for the former United manager to endorse such a big signing is a significant step in their working relationship. It is particularly important as Ferguson was at the forefront of the storm that saw Pogba leave United four years ago. Back in 2012, Ferguson and Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, clashed over a potential new contract for the Frenchman and he left for just £800,000. Now, United will pay an enormous price for letting him go as they prepare to make Pogba the first £100 million player.
The terms of the deal are said to be agreed, personal terms include wages of around £290,000 a week and now fans are just waiting for the player to return from his extended, post-Euros holiday to conclude any remaining aspects of the deal. The details surrounding Pogba’s acrimonious departure remain a mystery, with both sides blaming the other for their failings in reaching an agreement. Ferguson though remains adamant that Pogba wanted to stay and that the club was interested in securing his future at United, only for Raiola’s intrusion to scupper any negotiations and facilitate a move to Juventus. Speaking in 2012, several months before Pogba made the move to Italy, Ferguson said:
“Yeah he’s a good boy, he’s very talented. We’re negotiating his contract at the moment. It’s a bit complicated in a way because he’s changed his agent a couple of times. The boy wants to stay, I think that’s obvious, and hopefully we can get that done soon.”
The former United manager was particularly complimentary of Pogba’s attributes as a young player:
“Marvellous athlete. For a boy 18 years of age, he has an outstanding physique.”
That new contract was not signed and Pogba did leave and, in Ferguson’s mind, just one man was responsible for that. Writing in his book Leading, Ferguson criticised Raiola for destroying the relationship between Manchester United and their latest young talent.
“Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco. He and I were like oil and water. From then on our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to integrate himself with Paul and his family.”
Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward have set about righting the wrongs of previous regimes at United and the signing of Paul Pogba, regardless of the fee, is a sign of the significant ambition from all concerned at the club to return Manchester United to the pinnacle of world football. Captain Wayne Rooney has been speaking about that ambition ahead of the new season, as he believes Mourinho can be the man to bring success back to the club after three years of under achievement. Speaking to Manchester radio station Key103, Rooney said:
“He’s made great signings, they’ve gelled in really well with the squad so it’s exciting times.
“It’s always exciting when you get a new manager but to get a new manager in the stature of Jose Mourinho… he’s first of all great to work under and he’s brought his way of working and a winning mentality back to the club.
“I think Manchester United as a football club need to win. We have to win and he certainly has that winning mentality.”
So whether it costs £10 million, £50 million or even £100 million, the value of bringing Pogba back to Manchester is immeasurable. It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. Paul Pogba is one of the most talented, most sought-after individuals in the game. He is 23, his prime years still very much ahead of him, ready to become a talismanic figure at Old Trafford over the next few years. So often it is exactly that kind of player that is lost to the attraction of Real Madrid or Barcelona. Now, though, it is all about Manchester United. What a season it could be.