On Thursday, Manchester United reportedly met the exorbitant terms of Juventus’ request regarding star midfielder Paul Pogba.
The club’s asking price has augmented to £120million, which would shatter Gareth Bale’s transfer record of £100million when he joined Real Madrid in 2013.
United’s desire to acquire a player of Pogba’s caliber is understandable. He is only 23-years-old, has won domestic titles with Juventus and reached the 2016 EURO final with France. He is sublime with the ball at his feet and he won the Golden Boy award in 2013. He is likely the most accomplished player in the world at his age.
But £120million? As much promise as the Frenchman has shown, only the likes of Messi and Ronaldo can warrant that kind of fee – Pogba simply hasn’t reached that level yet.
Factoring in his role in an already congested attacking core for United makes the club’s thirst for him a bit more perplexing. Jose Mourinho has long been maligned for his reluctance to build teams starting with the young prospects of the club. He would rather find success via the transfer market.
But in the end, it’s extremely difficult to justify £120million for one player.
United’s unmitigated interest in the star midfielder could lead to disaster in Mourinho’s first year with the club.
Here are FIVE reasons why Pogba could be United’s worst ever transfer…
With exorbitant offers come monumental expectations to perform. Pogba will only justify earning £120million if he wins multiple Premier League titles and Player of the Year awards.
That’s a lot to ask for a 23-year-old. Granted, Pogba’s precocious experience and success prepare him for the high-pressure situation in Manchester, but he’s never seen expectations like the ones that await him in Old Trafford.
But signing Pogba launches massive expectation on more than just him. Mourinho will be fully expected to win the title in his first season, and all of the big name players, including recent newbies Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, must dominate the league.
United’s sudden propensity to find success by using their excess of money in the transfer market will direct the spotlight to the club. United must win, and all players, Pogba especially, must perform.
No one in United’s squad has the current success and simultaneous potential as Pogba. But Mourinho has a barrage of stars—young and old— that would start for just about any other side in the Premier League.
Anthony Martial had 11 goals last season and is only 20-years-old. The youngster Marcus Rashford absolutely exploded in the latter stages of the Premier League season, scoring five goals in just 11 games, and both are shaped to headline the United attack for years to come.
Factor in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, an attacking midfielder who led the Bundesliga in assists last term, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then United suddenly have an overload of worthy attacking players in the mix.
Juan Mata and Bastian Schweinsteiger are two veterans with a few quality years left in their careers as well. Evidently, every team would love to have United’s problem of having too many options. But Pogba’s arrival could impede the progression of the club’s young stars, and potentially move Mkhitaryan from his natural position.
Mourinho also indicated in his first United press conference that he sees Rooney in an attacking role, rather than in a deep midfield spot.
The ‘Special One’ will be hard-pressed to find everyone time on the pitch.
The growth of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will be hindered if Pogba joins United.
Martial, 20, and Rashford, 18, showed what they were capable of last year. Similar to Pogba, Martial is also a Golden Boy victor, having won the 2015 rendition of the award. He shined this season for an otherwise dormant United attack with 11 goals, more than Pogba’s total in Serie A.
Rashford splashed onto the scene in the latter stages of the season. He scored five goals in 11 games, providing the club with a massive boost and a glimpse of the future.
But Pogba could take up one of the attacking midfield spots. He would likely move Mkhitaryan out wide, and with Ibrahimovic as the striker, Martial and Rashford’s inclusion on the pitch could be limited. Rooney’s role must be factored in as well.
Advancing the progress of Martial and Rashford will only come with playing time, which will be hard to distribute due to the excess of quality United attackers.
Pogba is a world class player, but there are several other options United could find to serve a similar purpose.
For example, players such as Dimitri Payet, Blaise Matuidi or Moussa Sissoko serve a similar purpose. All three are French midfielders who shined at the EUROs when Pogba was rather unimpressive.
Payet has emerged as one of the best attackers in Europe His sublime campaign with West Ham, followed up with a brilliant EUROs performance, should have clubs salivating.
Meanwhile, Matuidi has shown his quality over a sustained period of time both with PSG and France. He may not have the same creativity and intuition in the attacking third as Pogba or Payet, but Matuidi is a versatile option in the midfield.
Meanwhile, Sissoko shined brightest of all French players in the EURO final.
All three aforementioned names could serve as a dangerous midfielder capable of creating a goal at any touch.
The Pogba craze has grown to insurmountable heights. When compared with his French counterparts, the 23-year-old blended in more than standing out. He constantly played right in front of the backline and merely chipped diagonal balls into wide areas, rather than joining the attack fully.
His excellence shouldn’t be understated, but quality of performances from lesser-renowned names have been overlooked.
Pogba is simply not worth £120million.
In order for a player’s name to be etched alongside the biggest transfer fee ever, he must be the top player or two in the world, and Pogba isn’t.
Such an exorbitant price could be associated with Gareth Bale, Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez or Ronaldo. All of them produce consistently, and it shows.
Pogba recorded a mediocre eight goals last season with Juventus. He led Serie A with 12 assists, which was the lowest out off all the collective best outputs from the top five leagues.
In the EUROs, he was the featured player on the side that was favoured to win the tournament. His quality didn’t warrant the hype, as he scored one goals, failed to record an assist and lost to a Ronaldo-less Portugal squad in France.
His performances certainly didn’t justify a £120million contract.
United may use Pogba in a defensive midfield role, which would be a massive mistake. The Frenchman is a mediocre defender. He is much more adept in the attacking sense, but Mourinho has already stated he sees Rooney in an attacking role, which could relegate Pogba deeper into the midfield in a defensive role.
Does it really make sense to pay £120million for a defensive midfielder?
Pogba has a brilliant career ahead of him, but until he leaps into the top tier of three or four best players in the world, he doesn’t deserve the most lucrative deal in football history.