Manchester United’s re-signing of Paul Pogba grabbed all the headlines of the summer transfer window as the world record fee redefined the upper limits of what a footballer is worth.
The 23-year-old made his triumphant return to Old Trafford after what seemed like a never ending saga of hearsay, speculation, rumour and postulating by fans and the media alike.
All speculation ended at the end of July when the France international officially ‘came home’ to United for a world record £89 million fee.
Now, footballing super-agent Mino Raiola, who helped facilitate the deal, has shed some light on the biggest transfer of the summer and revealed, to TalkSport, that it actually took a year to complete.
“Pogba was a deal that we were working on already for a year – maybe longer.”
“It was a complex deal as it involves a lot of parties and involves a lot of high stakes rights and it is difficult to get them all aligned.”
“I work for the player, that is always very clear, so try to do what is in the interests of the player, what is his wishes, and I try to keep that always in mind.”
What is most interesting about this revelation is the fact that if what Raiola says is indeed true, then with whom at Manchester United was he working with to secure the deal?
Current United boss José Mourinho was assumed to be the driving force behind the signing of the former academy graduate but, having only taken over from Louis van Gaal in May, does this mean that Mourinho was secretly working on a deal ever since his departure from Chelsea last December, or even before?
Or, was United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the man who orchestrated the deal? A man under pressure following three torrid seasons and hundreds of millions spent for no reward, Woodward was certainly a man with his back against the wall by the end of last season. To broker such a deal in those circumstances would certainly speak volumes for his character.
The signing of Mourinho, followed by the arrival of superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mikhitaryan and then, finally, Pogba, has seen the former accountant’s fortunes reverse to the point where he is now a hero among fans.
If the Pogba deal did indeed take a year to complete, Raiola’s comments expose a complex business world that lurks behind the facade of the beautiful game.
The business of sport is clearly a never ending thing, not constrained by the boundaries of two transfer windows each year and only tempered, seemingly, by the end of year balance sheet.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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