Paul Pogba, you may have heard, became the most expensive player of all time when he joined Manchester United for around £89m earlier this summer.
The French international rejoined the club from Juventus after four years away, and has quickly slotted into José Mourinho’s midfield next to the revitalised Marouane Fellaini.
However, Pogba’s career path could have gone in a very different direction had Barcelona decided to follow up on their interest last year.
In quotes carried by the Mirror this morning, Barca director Albert Soler has claimed that the club had an €100m first refusal agreement with Juventus from last year but ultimately decided to sign Portuguese international André Gomes, in a much cheaper deal that could potentially reach €55m, instead:
“Last year we reached a deal with Juventus for us to have a priority option when they sold Pogba,
“This summer we decided that there were players that suited us better on a sporting level.
“The idea of the board was that nobody would be able to get ahead of us in the market.
“It allowed us to have options.”
Whether Pogba would have gone to the Camp Nou instead of Man United isn’t particularly clear, however – nor would the 23-year-old ever admit to it now even if he would have favoured a move to Spain at the time.
Barcelona informed Juve of their decision not to activate the €100m agreement earlier this year, before the interest from Man United seriously intensified.
In addition to Gomes, the Spanish champions also signed Lucas Digne, Jasper Cillessen, Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suárez and Paco Álcacer. In all, Barca spent €123m over the summer – almost €20m over what Pogba would have cost on his own – so they can be happy with their summer business.
So too will Man United, who were able to recruit one of the brightest young talents in world football, albeit at a considerable cost.