When Paul Pogba left Manchester United in 2012, there was always that nagging feeling of ‘what if?’
I had seen Pogba as a boy when he joined United, and followed his career closely telling anyone that would listen about the star that Man United had on their hands.
Some of my friend’s bought in, I remember taking one to Underhill to watch United face Arsenal in a reserve game and whilst it wasn’t a memorable performance, my friend came away knowing that I hadn’t been talking rubbish, Pogba was the real deal.
There had been talk of unrest for Pogba prior to his departure, unhappy at the lack of chances and being behind players who weren’t actually midfielders so it didn’t come as a shock when he left but more of a disappointment.
I felt more could have been done on both sides to keep him at Old Trafford.
He left for a measly £800k compensation to Juventus and it was there that he took off, as the young Frenchman began scoring the goals he had been for our reserves, in their first team.
Youtube videos and Vines of his wonder strikes became unavoidable on social media, he was flourishing in his role as a first team player in Turin meanwhile we struggled with Cleverley, Anderson and Fellaini amongst others but given the manner of his departure, there was always the chance he could come back right?
Fast forward to 2016 and a Manchester United side with Jose Mourinho at the helm and with money to burn have come to reclaim the ‘one that got away’. Talk of an £80m bid has grown to talk of £100m, potentially making the 23 year old the most expensive player ever.
United have never been shy when it comes to splashing the cash, breaking transfer records left right and centre but this transfer is different.
Non United fans everywhere have been spluttering at the sum, ‘£100m on him?’ The outrage has been amazing but aside from United fans enjoying the indignation, the transfer does pose some valid questions.
The fact Pogba was a United player and United will now have to spend £99,200,000 (sans the £800k Juve paid in compensation) for him to play for them once again must stick in the craw. Had things been dealt with correctly, he would already be a United player and the sum as well as the reported £300k a week wages would be a non factor (I assume by now he would be on at least £100k though).
Despite this, is he really worth £100m? It is a question being asked on Twitter, Facebook and in Whatsapp group chats across the world as fans try to rationalise the deal and the sad fact is, United bias aside, I think he may be…
This summer and in the run up to it has seen some crazy figures thrown around, the world winced when Leicester bid £30m for Watford’s Troy Deeney, and there was astonishment when the Hornets turned it down.
Ignore the ridiculous money Chinese clubs are throwing about to attract stars to the Orient (although Hulk’s move to Shanghai for £46m stands out like a sore thumb, how many more clubs will be defrauded by the big Brazilian?)
Look at Bournemouth’s £15m bid for Liverpool’s Jordan Ibe, Man City’s failed £39m bid for Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci, John Stone’s £50m valuation by Everton etc; the money in football has clearly become ridiculous and Pogba is simply another example.
Whilst £100m is a crazy figure for what that money gets you it isn’t as bad as let’s say the £46m for Hulk. At 23 Pogba has resale value, it’s pretty obvious that he won’t spend the rest of his career at United so that will be key when he does eventually move on, he is already a proven winner with numerous Serie A and Coppa Italia titles, has played in a World Cup where he was named best young player and is currently part of a French side that could become European champions this weekend.
We polled Man United fans on the matter and of the 627 that took part, a massive 77% had no qualms with spending £100m on Pogba for various reasons:
Ability wise he is amazing; with the deftness of a ballerina despite having the height of a basketballer. He comes alive when helping with attacks but is no stranger to doing his defensive work and has an eye for the spectacular when it comes to scoring goals.
He is a salesman’s dream with his crazy hair and even crazier celebrations, dabbing with the best of them and is already one of the faces of his national side as well as his sponsors Adidas who are more than happy to roll him out when it comes to ad campaigns due to his crossover potential (he was welcomed to Adidas by Pusha T, the head of Kanye West’s record label GOOD Music, and has appeared in viral vids with UK star Stormzy).
At a club like United where cash is God, Woodward and co must simply be seeing pound signs when they look at him. I remember feeling like a fool in 2010 when I read a report from Real Madrid saying that Ronaldo’s shirt sales had already covered the £80m they spent to bring him to the Bernabeu, and I forsee a similar situation with Pogba, with all the fanfare around a possible signing his shirt and merch sales alone would likely make this deal worth it.
In an ideal world players would still cost threepence and players would shake hands before and after games and everyone would be perfect gentlemen but that isn’t football in 2016. Players have haircuts some would deem weird, and wear colourful boots, and dance after scoring goals, and cost millions of pounds. It hasn’t always been like this but nothing stays the same forever and it’s a journey that could soon see a £150m player and so forth.
This is nothing new for United, they broke transfer records signing Bryan Robson in 1981 for £1.5m, then again signing Roy Keane in 1993 for £3.75m. Pogba is no different and United will hope that the Frenchman can follow in his predecessor’s footsteps given their place in Manchester United history.