It’s the biggest transfer saga of the summer, Paul Pogba to Manchester United or, to be more specific, back to United.
Over £100 million is the price being quoted, with United also willing to offer better wages, so he’s more than likely Old Trafford bound, albeit with some reports today making the transfer look a little less certain.
However, it has been reported that Raiola could stand to pocket as much as £30 million should Pogba pull on the red shirt of United again.
There’s no doubting Pogba’s qualities as a player – he could be just what United need, but this transfer has to needle fans a little bit. Paying a world record fee for a player who went for a meagre compensation only a few seasons ago sticks in the craw.
Upon completion this transfer will represent Alex Ferguson’s biggest mistake as United manager. Fergie balked at meeting Raiola’s demands for a £30,000 per week contract for Pogba around the same time he was bumping Tom Cleverly up to a reported £50,000 per week contract. The Scot’s financial prudence seems somewhat short sighted on reflection.
In his latest book Fergie also admits that he let his personal dislike for Raiola influence the manner in which he handled the affair.
“There are one or two football agents I simply do not like, and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, is one of them. I distrusted him from the moment I met him.
“We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option, which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco. He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.”
The decision to allow the Frenchman to leave because of an unwillingness to pay over the odds seems ridiculous in light of the touted transfer fee for Pogba. The young star leaving also impacted on Fergie’s last years at United as central midfield was constantly a problem position.
Pogba slipped straight into the Juventus starting lineup though, where he has flourished ever since.
The 23-year-old, however, was pretty disappointing in the Euro 2016 final against Portugal, when he was deployed in a deep-lying midfield role. He was anonymous for much of the game.
If United are to see the best of him he needs to be given the freedom of the pitch to roam around creating havoc using his power and unpredictability. In Jose Mourinho’s preferred system Pogba will most likely be deployed in the same role Frank Lampard played so effectively for the Portuguese boss.
Fergie often points to selling Jaap Stam as his biggest regret, on reflection letting Pogba leave must usurp Stam’s sale now, particularly given the long-term impact it has had on the pitch. Add to that the financial strain of bringing the Frenchman back.
Letting Pogba go all those years ago has to be Fergie’s biggest mistake.
Stephen Vaughan, Pundit Arena