Manchester United and Paul Pogba are two names we have seen linked all summer long, but this could well be coming to an end either way very soon. For the last few days now, speculation has heated up regarding the possible transfer of the French midfielder to his former club, which he left four years ago for a £800,000 compensation payment. Real Madrid was said to be the player’s preferred destination, with the UEFA Champions League holders backing off due to the financial might of the Old Trafford club, something they cannot current compete with. Reports suggest that £100 million or more would need to be paid for the player, who has risen to become one of the best midfielders in Europe at this current time, a midfielder United could do with.
Tuesday has seen movement in the saga with Mino Raiola, officials from Manchester United and Juventus were due to meet in order to present the initial offer for Pogba, a figure reported to be €104 million (£87 million). Sky Sports News HQ, one of the big English sites to report on this, albeit reporting information which had been reported in Italy earlier in the day. Sky also reported something which has been reported before, the fact that Pogba has already agreed on personal terms with United, €13 million (£10.9 million) per year, thought to be a five-year contract, the fifth year might be an add-on option, which is something United have done a lot of recently.
Pogba, a Manchester United Academy graduate who won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 with team-mates Jesse Lingard, Sam Johnstone, Will Keane and Tyler Blackett – who are all currently still at the club. Keane, on the other hand, may be sold this summer, despite the fact he has traveled on the club’s pre-season tour of China. Prior to leaving United in the summer of 2012, Pogba was thought of as one of the club’s brightest talents, something he has shown since leaving the club four years ago – which also brings some regret in the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson allowed the player to leave. The breaking point for Pogba was the fact he was not utilised. Back in 2013 speaking to The Times, reported by Sky Sports, Pogba said:
“I didn’t want to sign a contract as Ferguson didn’t play me, even though there were no midfielders there.
“He obviously thought I didn’t deserve the contract I asked for, and didn’t put me in the team even though he had no midfield players. It was his choice.
“United were short of players like me, but it was the manager’s decision. I couldn’t do anything about it. I was frustrated because he spoke to me a few times and said I was nearly there.
“I told him ‘If I don’t play then I can’t get any experience and see how far I have to go’. I played a few cup games but he didn’t want to give me a contract and they just let me go.”
Pogba was also quick to stipulate that money never became a part of him leaving the club, but seeing Paul Scholes return to the club in January 2012, who effectively ended his chances of playing in a midfield role and showing what he could do, was the last straw, with Pogba saying:
“When I saw Scholes come back part of me was really happy as he’s a legend, but I knew it was the end of me. The manager thought Scholes had to play, not me, and after that I had to leave. Maybe Ferguson will regret it now, but I don’t think about Manchester United any more. I have no regrets about leaving Manchester, none at all.”
You cannot blame him for leaving, which was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest ever mistakes, laid alongside getting rid of Roy Keane and Jaap Stam, among many others. Pogba is a player that could get into any teams starting XI at this moment in time. He may not have had the best tournament for France in the European Championships this summer, but that does not mean he is a player that cannot compete at the highest level. Jose Mourinho is a manager who has a good track record, a blemish on that record will be his sacking from Chelsea back in December, which means he will be more determined to make everything work at Manchester United this season and for the duration of his three-year contract, which may see him lead the club for much longer.
Pogba would be wise to buy into the Mourinho project at United, especially in that the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have already signed for the club, they all share the same agent, Mino Raiola. Eric Bailly, an up and coming central defender will also show that the manager and the club are determined to get things moving in the right direction, especially after three years out of the limelight under David Moyes, Ryan Giggs (interim) and Louis van Gaal – winning the FA Community Shield (2013) and the Emirates FA Cup (2016) in the three years since Ferguson retired, winning the Barclays Premier League in the 2012/13 season.
On Tuesday evening, Mediaset Premium in Italy reported that Pogba has said ‘yes’ to Manchester United, which represents a total agreement between the club and the player. It was also said that United will pay Pogba €15 million a year in wages, with an additional €5 million in image rights. Juventus do not want to sell the player, which has been the case all summer, but they feel they cannot ignore the player, who seems happy with Mourinho’s project at his former club. Another report in Italy from Gianluca Di Marzio, one of the most credible journalists of the last few years, or more has stated that United offered Juventus €101 million for the player, which was rejected and a €120 million counter offer possibly being made. Should this deal go through, Pogba will be more expensive that Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale with Manchester United breaking the world record transfer fee for a player.
Things seem to have developed over the last week, with premature reports on a deal being struck already reported. There is no smoke without fire after all. I am sure many will still not believe this until the player is stood inside the AON Training Complex holding the Manchester United shirt bearing his name, I am the same. One thing that seems to be right though is that there is a deal to be made and it is not just something that can be sorted out in one day, not for a high-profile player anyway. At this moment in time, it would seem that Pogba is set to be a Manchester United player once more, United will have their galactico signing, for want of a better word, which has broken the world record. The might of Manchester United may well be back with a vengeance. Who would have thought that United could have signed the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan without UEFA Champions League football, also beating the once-supreme financial might of Real Madrid and Barcelona.