Pogba's Manchester United move shows Juventus are still not among Europe's elite

The Bianconeri may rule supreme in Italy, but Adam Digby argues that the loss of the France international proves they're still not quite at the continent's top table...

Paul Pogba may not be a Juventus youth product, but the Bianconeri deserve immense credit for helping him develop into a player worthy of a world-record transfer fee. There should be very little doubt that in terms of both footballing ability and marketing potential, the 23-year-old's worth every penny of the £100 million that Manchester United paid to bring him back to Old Trafford this week.

He returns to a club very different to the one he left behind four years ago; Pogba will certainly not find reserve-team coaches or full-backs pressed into service in midfield ahead of him. Indeed, where Sir Alex Ferguson once preferred to select Rafael or an already-retired Paul Scholes ahead of the Frenchman, Jose Mourinho will place him at the centre of a team aiming to contend for the Premier League title this term.

The Frenchman has spent his time in Italy alongside some truly fine players and learnt the intricacies of his position from some of the very best midfielders in the game. Stealing insight from Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, the Paris native has also gained immense tactical knowledge from spells under coaches Antonio Conte and Max Allegri. Gigi Buffon, Patrice Evra and Carlos Tevez have shown him what it means to be a leader in good times and bad, while his own natural gifts have been improved by an environment that breeds winners.

What now for Juve?

The Premier League side – thanks to their high profile, superb marketing and lucrative TV deal – can afford to spend such an incredible sum on a player they lost for almost nothing just four years ago

“People need to know that nothing at Juve is easy,” Pogba told La Stampa earlier this year. “There's a different culture of work compared to elsewhere. I was at Manchester: it seemed like being on holiday!" That dedication and application will be needed now more than ever as, while the Premier League side – thanks to their high profile, superb marketing and lucrative TV deal – can afford to spend such an incredible sum on a player they lost for almost nothing just four years ago, Pogba and United will come under huge scrutiny in 2016/17.

The outlay adds to the pressure created by bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mourinho this summer, with the malaise that existed under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal expected to vanish quickly with the charismatic Portuguese in charge. Yet of equally pressing concern is what – aside from a huge influx of cash – the move means for Juventus.


Juventus celebrate winning the Serie A title in 2005

It's a difficult question to answer, particularly in light of the Old Lady's own recent acquisitions, but is one which supporters of the club may not find too favourable when analysing Pogba's exit.

Perhaps the best place to start a search for an answer is a decade earlier. In 2006, Juventus were a financial superpower, a club whose earnings were at least on a par with the likes of United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. They had always been among Europe's richest clubs, repeatedly breaking the world transfer record themselves and offering wages that very few of their rivals could match.

Started from the bottom

Leaving their domestic rivals trailing in their wake, new president Andrea Agnelli oversaw a magnificent revival in which the club did everything expected of a would-be contender in the Champions League era

Then came Calciopoli. Relegated to Serie B for what was then seen as a prominent role in the influence-pedalling which made Italian football a farce, the club sold off its stars in order to survive the financial blow of their punishment. Sponsorship deals were renegotiated at vastly cut rates and their share price plummeted, so much so that the Bianconeri have openly discussed suing the FIGC for a sum of around €443 million in lost revenue.

But while rivals like Milan, Roma and Inter bemoaned the demise of their once dominant position, Juventus chose to actively pursue a different path. Leaving their domestic rivals trailing in their wake, new president Andrea Agnelli oversaw a magnificent revival in which the club did everything expected of a would-be contender in the Champions League era, including investing in young talent and beginning work on a new stadium in order to increase their profit margin.

Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman, Arturo Vidal

Coman (centre) and Vidal (right) joined Bayern from Juventus last summer

Veteran stars such as Pirlo, Sami Khedira and Dani Alves arrived in Turin as free agents, with the club spending big on the likes of Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro and Mario Mandzukic. Operating within a strict wage structure, Juventus have slowly built a superb squad, boosted this summer by moves for Miralem Pjanic and Gonzalo Higuain - which also significantly weakened their domestic rivals.

Those two signings have seen the Bianconeri compared to Bayern Munich, but unlike the Bavarian giants Juve remain on the outside looking in at Europe's truly elite clubs. Pogba's left to join United, just as Vidal and Kingsley Coman moved to Bayern last summer, each expressing their desire to win the Champions League at the Allianz Arena.

Outside looking in

The French ace has repeatedly expressed a burning desire to win the Ballon d'Or, something no player in Italy has done since Kaka in 2007, the year Juventus returned to Serie A after their season in the second tier. It's a sad legacy of that black mark in history that, rather than compare themselves to the biggest sides on the continent, Juve now find themselves on equal footing with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid rather than Barcelona or the Premier League's top sides.

They may well clinch a sixth consecutive league title this season – an achievement never seen before in Italy – but Pogba has instead decided to join an outfit who will be competing in the Europa League. He'll see his profile and wage packet increase exponentially, though, as the lure of playing for a club recognised in all corners of the globe proved too much to resist.

Juventus may have viewed their Champions League final appearance in 2015 as a return to the top table, but the harsh reality is they're still waiting for a seat to be made available.

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That is the dumbest thing I have ever read. So if United signed Muller for €120m that means Bayern Munic wouldn't be among Europe's elite teams? And don't come with this Ballon d'Or argument. Players from the English league have almost never won it. Only players from Italy and Spain win that thing. That's a fact.

Pogba left because of his money hungry agent Raiola wanted to fill his already full pockets. That's the ONLY reason he left. A player swapping ambition for money says something about the player and nothing about the club he left. Juventus have a vastly superior team to United. One could argue that the only player from the Reds that would get any meaningful playing time on Juve is Zlatan and Mkhitaryan. That's it. Juventus have a dozen bench players that would start for United. So don't go talking nonsense that this ridiculous decision by Pogba means Juventus is not elite. Why don't you instead talk about what a horrible career move it is to go from Juve at this moment in time to the 5th best team in England.

Good luck in the Europa League and enjoy your money. Loser.

I agree Duck. Not sure if the writer of this nonsense realizes that the owners of Juventus last year paid nearly 500 million pounds for 50 percent of the Economist. A British stalwart that has only changed hands twice in 150 years. Of course the British dare not mention this. Juventus always and I mean always intended for Dybala to be their true number 10. If United offered 150 for him they would have been shot down. Pogba for 100 fine. By the way the so called "non elite team" Juventus had no qualms about dropping 80 million on a 28 year old. So let's cut this silly argument and tell the lazy writer to write something worthwhile.

I read Adam Digby's stuff often and am usually impressed by his insights. This one feel weak, as though there was a need to write something to address the painful loss of a great player and personality in Pogba, while imbuing the transaction with some sort of deeper meaning. Clearly the team has invested heavily already during this pre-season, with highly impressive additions in Pjanic, Pjaca, Benatia, Dani Alves and Higuain. Equally clearly, they have had time to assess how to (not replace but) adequately fill Pogba's place in midfield with a high quality player. Personally I'm rooting for Witsel to get an opportunity with a great, nurturing club, but there are a number of top-level talents available as everyone knows.

Soccer these days is an alternately thrilling and dismaying mixed bag of big-money, powerful sponsors (Pogba rolls into Manchester in a.....Chevy Camaro....ahead another team member or official in a Ferrari) and, occasionally, brilliant play by inspired teams, as showcased in the Juve-Bayern slugfests of last season, which surpassed any of the subsequent UCL action. The current Bianconeri squad is talented, committed, and deep, and they've got a proven winner and communicator in Allegri and management that compares favorably with that of any team in Europe. They clearly have a major hole to fill, and not much time to do it, but now's not the time to argue about "Elite-ness". The answer to that question will come in Wales in June.

Compelled to are with Duck1897, Ramdak & Steve Bachrach. Juve were "elite" when they sold Zidane & improved as a squad in 2001. Cut the shite talk about EPL money and the two Spanish clubs. Juve are on par and only getting stronger. Ridiculous opinion from this author. Stop it.