News regarding deals for four players to join Manchester United has been circling. Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks likely to join at this point, as does Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the other two remain firmly in the open. The first is James Rodriguez, who we will talk about later, but the second is Juventus’ Paul Pogba, who could be subject to a world record move over the course of this summer. Though it was heavily touted that Pogba’s big-money move would see him arrive in Manchester, it seems less likely now, because the Juventus starlet reportedly prefers Real Madrid. According to the reports that state this, Pogba is so adamant on moving to Real Madrid that, if it does not work, he would rather stay at Juventus than join Manchester United.
This statement could actually be believable as Real Madrid famously has quite the allure and Pogba doesn’t have a great history with United. Pogba left United upon contract expiry in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since Sir Alex Ferguson refused to pin his hopes on the midfielder. Juventus, however, did exactly that for Pogba, making him the superstar he is at 23 years of age. Mino Raiola, his agent, reportedly advised him to join United, but he apparently does not fancy a move to Old Trafford.
Raiola also happens to be the agent of two other relevant clients, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. With United deep in business with the super-agent, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear them speak about Pogba, even if nothing comes from it. United has most likely been scouting Juventus for years; they’re one of the best clubs in the world and wouldn’t hesitate to enquire about Pogba, regardless of the fee. Through all of this, though, by reading the reports and adding a bit of analysis, we can determine two interesting things about any potential Pogba deal; the first one has to do with Jose Mourinho’s plan to utilize him and the second is about United’s other potential targets.
Jose Mourinho reportedly wanted Pogba to play a marquee role in the midfield, so much so that he held off signing Miralem Pjanic (who moved to Juventus for relative peanuts in comparison) to sign the Frenchman even though he didn’t feel he had a chance of signing Pogba. The reports saying this probably don’t have much to back them up, but they do make sense. For £100 million, Pogba would play a marquee role in the midfield, and his type of bursting, all-action midfielder is probably the only type missing from United’s squad after the addition of Mkhitaryan.
Pjanic moving to Juventus could imply that they are looking for a replacement for Pogba- even though he isn’t a similar type of player, he’s a world-class player and will be excellent in Juventus’ world class midfield. In Claudio Marchisio, Sami Khedira and Pjanic, Juventus has an excellent midfield capable of replacing Pogba, regardless of how good the Frenchman is. If Pogba wants a move to Real Madrid, the only remaining variable is Real Madrid’s interest in Pogba. If they’re interested, club president Florentino Perez will get his man.
However, Real Madrid’s midfield is very packed. The likes of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Isco are all vying for a place in Real Madrid’s midfield already. I’ve omitted one name from that list for a reason, and that player is James Rodriguez. Though Rodriguez isn’t the same well-rounded midfielder as Pogba, he does offer the bursting dribbling, pace, and creativity the Frenchman does.
The best midfield in which United would set up with Pogba, featuring Morgan Schneiderlin and probably Ander Herrera, would not work with James Rodriguez. However, it would have a high chance of working with either Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Carrick or Daley Blind, who has been freed by the purchase of Eric Bailly from Villareal to shore up United’s depth in defence. A midfield of Blind, Schneiderlin and Rodriguez would have the experience, calmness, quality on the ball and more to play at the highest level of football, and while not as pleasing as a potential partnership with Pogba and Herrera, it is still an incredible prospect to think about.
Of course, none of this can be considered anywhere near concluded business, but one thing can be concluded and taken from this speculation. If Pogba leaves Juventus this summer and moves, specifically to Real Madrid, there will be a massive ripple effect on football. If Pogba moves to Madrid, we could see Rodriquez at United, sparking the sale of Fellaini and a few others from United’s midfield. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless.
But we do know that Pogba is going to be the story of the summer – even if Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi moves clubs, Pogba’s transfer will still have more impact on this transfer window. United has to hope they will be a part of the chain reaction, because, if they play their cards right, they could have every solution and more to their minor midfield problem.