There’s a joke that’s been doing the rounds on Twitter about a certain young Frenchman in recent days.
Pogba is just Ross Barkley with a jazzy haircut and the ability to dab #fraud
— Golden Guardiola (@GoldenGuardiola) July 29, 2016
The misinformed and ignorant majority have swiftly assumed a downright laughable stance on Paul Pogba’s admittedly astronomical fee. They, with a worryingly poor understanding of both football and business, suggest that Pogba’s eccentric coifs and divisive dancing are inflating the record-breaking price.
Of course they are.
The Juve man’s iconic nature, his memorable silhouette, his athletic stature are all factors in the price and so they should be.
He is the most marketable athlete on the planet. In United’s case in particular there is no man who could better lead their brand. The very fact he is an Adidas employee is worth a sizeable chunk of the fee. His footballing abilities are secondary and so they should be. It’s a business transaction, the sporting element is only a small part. United, one of the most economically centred clubs in football, believe they will make money off the purchase and they almost certainly will.
More from our brains trust over on Twitter.
While comparing the pair’s footballing ability is an impressive form of stupidity in itself, it’s not the point. It’s time to put to bed the most ridiculous juxtaposition mankind has ever seen.
- Pogba is 23, Milner is 30.
- Pogba is prone to the spectacular. Milner, in his fourteen years of professional football is yet to be even mildly spectacular.
- Milner is an average height, pale Englishman called James. He possesses the marketability of a parachute-less skydive.
- Pogba stands at 6′ 3″ and is the most recognisable player on any pitch that doesn’t contain Cristiano or Lionel Messi.
Some though, will remain determined to analyse his ability as a footballer. So let’s talk about football. Let’s talk about how at 23, Pogba has played in a Champions League Final and a European Championships Final. Let’s talk about how he’s won a league title in each of his four years as a first-team footballer. Let’s talk about how until the infamous fee was mentioned, he was almost unanimously seen as the best young player in Europe and would undeniably be a future Ballon D’Or winner – but as soon £100 million was brought up, he’s an “overrated dab merchant fraud”.
Pogba’s imminent return is eerily similar to David Beckham’s 2003 switch to Real Madrid. Beckham was not the greatest winger in world football but he was, by a distance, the most valuable. Had he been a few years younger and leaving a club with manager less willing to let him go, he would have commanded a similarly large fee.
Becks was the most sought after celebrity in the world let alone the top athlete. His haircut, much like Pogba’s, was instantly recognisable. He grew the brand of the new Galacticos the world over. United, justifiably, see Pogba as their man to do this.
It’s hard to stress how important this is: the value of a footballer is only tenuously related to his footballing ability.
It’s the nature of commercialisation that is taking over the sport. The English giants are run as a company where profit is the name of the game. Zlatan’s arrival was a calculated business decision with his prodigious talents in mind. Pogba’s return is an equally purposeful operation.
The nature of the fee is even important. The fact that they are going to break the record is a huge boost to the brand. If they paid £84 million and fell short of Gareth Bale’s previous mark, they would look to be both inept and unspectacular. The final fee of £92 million is indicative of the image the club want to promote. A sleeping giant awoken and beginning to, once again, conquer all.
The transfer of the century is edging ever closer and the footballing world needs to quickly realise what it really is. The transaction of the century. This isn’t a teenage girl “I-want-that-one-mummy” purchase. This is the decision of a mammoth corporation that see it is an investment which will make money. They wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think so. Football is secondary to the prawn sandwich brigade in the Old Trafford corporate boxes – that much is clear. They wouldn’t fire Louis van Gaal mid-season for financial reasons and they’re clearly signing Paul Pogba for financial reasons.
Doesn’t hurt that he is a superb young footballer though.
Rory Murphy, Pundit Arena
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