Manchester United stole the summer spotlight by signing Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Jose Mourinho brought in specialist players, as promised, well in advance of the transfer deadline.
Regardless of it being a transfer that has got a lot of people talking, Pogba is one of the best buys the club has made, albeit at a world-record-breaking price.
The main talking point, however, has been the huge sum of money paid by United for a player who was already on their books as a youngster. Sir Alex Ferguson saw Pogba as a player for the future, and his decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement and use Rafael Da Silva in midfield instead of promoting the talented youth product came back to haunt the club.
Pogba later revealed that the midfield pairing of Rafael and Park Ji-sung in United’s 3-2 home defeat by Blackburn in 2011 was the final nail in the coffin. He was not prepared to wait any longer if there was an opportunity to play more first-team football elsewhere, which, there was. At Juventus.
Ferguson was not willing to take the blame for losing such a talented player, so the Scot pointed his finger at Mino Raiola, prompting the belief that Pogba was a money-hungry mercenary guided by an even greedier agent. This resulted in a bitter relationship between Raiola and United but it has improved since with three deals agreed (Pogba, Ibrahimovic & Mkhitaryan) between the parties last summer.
“It was very, very difficult moment for me,” Pogba admitted. “I was in love with Manchester and I was Mancunian.”
Raiola had a client who was attracting interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as Manchester United. Pogba choose the latter while also rejecting a contract extension offer from Juventus; a club with firm beliefs that they are not far off winning the Champions League.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It could be random folk on social media, or the big-mouthed twat in your local pub. Opinions are like arseholes because everyone has one.
Pogba is the fourth most marketable player in the world. Nowadays you simply cannot underestimate the influence kit manufacturers have at big clubs like United, and Adidas want nothing more than their biggest players playing at clubs wearing their shirts.
The amount spent on Pogba won’t come back to bite United in the arse. When you consider the heights this France international will reach as a United player, and the amount of shirt sales he will push, it won’t be seen as such an ordeal in four or five years time. Football is changing and player valuations are constantly on the rise.
Bu when you ask yourself ‘is [insert player] worth X amount’, nine times out of then the answer will be no. People just need to get with it and quench their unhealthy obsession. Just remember when The Mirror called Anthony Martial a ‘waste of money’ before he even togged out in a United kit?
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Also — based on the respective clubs’ turnovers — United are predicted to make £510million this year, making Pogba’s fee the equivalent of Everton spending £21million on a player or Spurs parting with £33million. Considering what Liverpool paid for Christian Benteke, Andy Carroll and Mario Balotelli (go on, add it up!), I’m convinced we’ve got a top player that warrants a steep valuation.
However, Pogba is not just a marketing plan.
Whether Pogba deserves to be the most expensive footballer of all-time is irrelevant because it was not him who hung a label on a shirt. The selling price and salary of a player are not reliable indicators of quality.
The talent is enormous. Pogba has the reputation of a phenomenon. The Frenchman has it all: technique, athletic ability, striking quality, pass register, imagination. He makes you get off your seat, which, is one of the biggest compliments you can give a professional footballer.
That does not mean Pogba has everything and is the greatest footballer currently walking on earth. If that was the case, he would have achieved more at club and international level, as well as been a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or award.
Back home where he belongs
Everyone at United is hoping there’s a happy ending to the tale of Pogba, who controversially joined, controversially left and surprisingly re-joined United in the space of seven years.
He will soon be 24-years-old, and played four seasons for a great European side, before joining another in England. At his age, Michael Owen had already been elected Ballon d'Or, as did Cristiano Ronaldo, Eusebio, Cruyff but we can all agree the climate in that regard has changed.
But what is he missing? Nothing that can't be learned. Pogba has the ability to be a monster for Manchester United, potentially one of the best to grace the pitch in a red shirt at Old Trafford, and that is some statement.
Pogba is human. Pogba is reunited. Pogba is here to rule world football.