“I can say that it’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United,” Mino Raiola claimed of his client. The French midfielder is currently in the last year of his deal - albeit with a one-year extension - and statements like Raiola’s suggest that he won’t be extending.
United have a choice - cash in on Pogba in the next two windows or extend?
Though Pogba has won the World Cup while at United and been arguably their most talented midfielder for much at his time at the club, his stock is dropping. He's put in regularly poor performances and only really delivered his Juventus form on a consistent basis for a while when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the wheel two seasons ago. The club have seemingly tried everything to unlock his best form - mostly to no avail.
Bruno Fernandes is the main man in midfield, now. Donny van de Beek is waiting in the wings for his chance. Pogba’s time could well be ticking - where does he go next?
When Pogba first broke through with Juventus, Manchester United weren’t really in the picture to re-sign their academy product. Sure, he had a phenomenal passing range, an eye for flair and an ability to play in the No. 6, No. 8 or No.10 roles to such a high level - but his marketability singled him out as a potential Galactico.
Things have since changed. With Zinedine Zidane in charge, he’d rather have a compact, workmanlike midfield and Pogba seems a little too erratic a character in 2020 to be truly relied on - not in the same way that Fede Valverde can.
If Real Madrid are looking to groom someone to assume Toni Kroos’s mantle, then Pogba seems your guy - they’re not bothered about shirt sales so much these days but surely it must help. Still, with so many well-rounded midfielders at much younger ages - Eduardo Camavinga comes to mind - perhaps Zidane won’t fancy linking up with his countryman that badly.
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Paris Saint-Germain have recently been linked with Paul Pogba and it makes perfect sense. It’s a homecoming move for him with an added star sparkle; the Parisian midfielder could win as many trophies as wished in his home city while PSG would relish adding another footballer that high-profile to the squad.
PSG aren’t exactly stocked with riches in midfield, either - well, not to the extent of some of Europe’s giants and not compared to their firepower up front. Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera are solid players but one would assume Pogba wouldn’t have any trouble getting in the first XI for Ligue 1 games ahead of them. There’s previous with Herrera - the pair worked well for United - and Tuchel would love to get his hands on another player so tactically flexible.
Pogba to Paris seems like a likely option. It also seems an unlikely place him to develop into the player that we always thought he’d become, though.
United to Juventus to United to Juventus would be a strange career trajectory but it’s true that Pogba left with nothing but respect and admiration for his Turin employers. Five years ago, the idea of Aaron Ramsey and Pogba in a midfield would have been frightening - and perhaps it still can be.
Juve is a club for winners but as they look to move to more entertaining football, re-signing one of their most popular entertainers could be a good move for them. Pogba is still young enough for Pirlo to shape into exactly what he wants and there are plenty of assist opportunities with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala ahead.
It might seem appealing for Pogba to go back to what he knows - but then so did United. Much has changed at the Old Lady since he packed his bags.
If you’re a top-class footballer these days with your choice of any team on the continent… where do you go? There’s only one answer, for many.
Bayern Munich know how to develop midfielders. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are currently being developed into the next great double-pivot of European football and there’s no doubt that playing in Germany would improve Pogba as a player technically, while he’d win titles every season, almost at a canter. Marc Roca may have joined Bayern recently as the long-term heir to Thiago Alcantara but under the right tutelage, there’s no doubt Pogba has the tools to become a world-class option within a season.
Money is a sticking point, though - not to mention the fact that the Frenchman may not even get a look-in, given how good that Bayern midfield is. The likes of James Rodriguez and Philippe Coutinho going to Bavaria to resurrect careers suggest Bayern wouldn’t be interested in the option long-term - which is a shame because it’s probably the place that Pogba would look best at.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, they won’t make a gallant bid. And the rest know there are better options. They’ve all had their chance to pay big. Nowhere near the interest of 2016 - even at a much lower price. Caveat emptor. What a shame it came to this. What poor timing today.December 7, 2020
Barcelona and Real Madrid have almost swapped philosophies in the last decade with Barca more likely to go for a big star than their Clasico counterparts. Getting in a World Cup-winning, classy midfielder like this would be right up their street.
It’s hard to know where Pogba would slot into Ronald Koeman’s line-up but he’d hope to be an upgrade on Philippe Coutinho. With so many options in midfield, it seems strange to go out and buy another midfielder at a big crossroads in his life - not that that’s stopped Barca before.
It’s unlikely that it would impress Messi enough to stay, either. Barca’s main interest is keeping their talisman right now - not looking to rehabilitate a player they missed out on a while ago.
Inter Milan are not averse to recycling Manchester United’s squad players into regular starters for Antonio Conte’s field of dreams. Pogba might just be the most expensive Red Devil yet.
Inter’s ambition seems to be growing - Pogba could well relish returning to a league he knows and becoming the undisputed star in a midfield that features former colleague Arturo Vidal. Antonio Conte would certainly simplify his game down to the bare basics - look at the effect he had on Cesc Fabregas in Chelsea’s midfield - but he’d also like Pogba’s high intensity.
Pogba at Inter would be fascinating but it’s perhaps too much of a stretch to actually see coming. Still, the link-up with Lukaku would be wonderful.
Not many players move from United to Liverpool but again, if Pogba’s looking to improve his game, working for Jurgen Klopp is one of the better options.
Gini Wijnaldum still hasn’t agreed a new contract. Of course, the idea was that Thiago would be in that side somewhere, too, but with him injured and Fabinho in the backline, getting Pogba involved as a shuttling No.8 in the Reds’ tight midfield could be a masterstroke that keeps the Reds at the top.
Still, there are plenty more reasons not to go for it. It’s a lot of money for a start, it limits Curtis Jones’s action - he’s ever-improving - and Pogba himself has had injury issues in the last year - Klopp would rather call on someone less risky. And given how often the German has talked up the importance of a smaller squad, buying one of the biggest names in the division? No, maybe not - as fun as it would be to see.
What about if Manchester United wanted more out of this deal than simply cash?
United’s long-term interests in Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho provide interesting hypotheticals. What if Pogba were to become part of a deal that brought one of United’s targets to Old Trafford? Admittedly, Pogba is probably on too money for Borussia Dortmund to consider such a deal but the idea of him in a Dortmund shirt is a fascinating one.
He would take their commercial opportunities up another level, for a start. There's a hell of a lot less pressure at Dortmund too and this could be the signing that turns them from a solid side into a title-challenging one. It’s a perplexing thought, at least.
Why? Because Chelsea sign everyone? Well, yes.
Mason Mount has been outstanding in the second-phase midfield role that he’s played of late but whether Chelsea would want to reunite Pogba with national teammate N’Golo Kante is another thing. The three of them would make an incredibly exciting midfield.
But that’s without factoring in Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho. Seems like one too many headaches for Frank Lampard.
Paul Pogba probably nearly signed for Arsenal, such was Arsene Wenger’s tentacled influence in French football. Given how badly the Gunners need some creative thrust in the side, could this become the signing to turn their season?
Pogba is arguably better in a deeper role and at his best, he’d would be a great addition next to Thomas Partey. But given that Arsenal have lots of work to do before they start thinking about luxuries like a progressive ball-mover in second phase - Xhaka and Ceballos will do for now, surely - it’s unlikely that the Mikel Arteta will be entertaining a move unless it comes extraordinarily cheap.
Maybe he'd make a good Mesut Ozil replacement, though, if Arsenal ever decide that the current strategy of not playing Ozil and not replacing him doesn't work.
Arsenal’s buys from United in the past include Henrikh Mkitaryan and Mikael Silvestre. Maybe steer clear from shopping at Old Trafford any more, lads.
Stranger things have happened, right?
Paul Pogba is a star with such huge appeal and he’s an Adidas athlete - they manufacture all MLS sides’ kits. It would end Pogba’s chance of winning the Champions League but it might reignite the MLS a few years before the USA, Canada and Mexico host the World Cup. Post-COVID, too, this might be the best time to stake a claim in becoming a major player in world soccer, sorry, football.
No one in Europe has really made the move stateside close to their peak since David Beckham in 2007. It would take someone with incredible confidence, individuality and guile… know anyone?
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