Rumours have been rife that the French star Paul Pogba is set to make a return to Old Trafford for a fee in the region of £100m. The midfielder was nurtured in Manchester United’s academy but left four years ago for Juventus. He is now regarded as one of the most promising young players in the world.
It is a good statement of intent, showing that Man United are committed to elevating themselves back to the elite of football. However, the £100m price tag is simply not justified. If that truly is the asking price, then United should look elsewhere.
Many commentators in recent weeks have called Pogba ‘over-rated’. This is rather harsh. Pogba is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders under the age of 23 in the world. He is strong, athletic and energetic. He also has the potential to become an immense player in future.
However, if Euro 2016 has shown us anything, it’s that Pogba is not the finished article.
He was expected to be one of the players of the tournament yet he struggled in his opening match and was promptly dropped by Didier Deschamps. Despite forcing his way back to the starting line-up, Pogba went on to concede a penalty to Ireland in the second round. In the final, he looked virtually anonymous, unable to take the game by the scruff of the neck as truly great players do. By the end, he looked to be losing composure, lambasting his team mates and sulking on the pitch.
Therefore, Pogba showed a certain lack of maturity. He was also unable to focus his explosive power and strength efficiently. He did not create enough chances, nor complete enough piercing runs into the box. At times he seemed lost for ideas, slightly unsure of his ultimate role in the team.
What about his form for his club? Pogba has been hailed as the star of Serie A for the last few years. No doubt that he has been immensely influential for Juventus. Despite this, there is one area which remains slightly underwhelming – his goalscoring exploits. Pogba has never scored ten goals or more in a league season. He mustered just eight in the last campaign. For a fee of £100m, you would expect a match winner, someone who can be relied on to find the back of the net when it matters.
Ultimately, it must be remembered that £100m is more than what was paid for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. These were players who were at their height when they were transferred. They were proven talisman, undoubtedly amongst the best in the world.
Pogba may well get there one day but he certainly isn’t at that level at the moment.
Therefore, spending such a sum on the Frenchman would be unnecessary and extravagant. It is true that such is the financial clout of Manchester United, this fee would be affordable. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. There is no reason to throw out reason and moderation in favour of rash impulse buys.
Mourinho must seriously consider what else that £100m can be spent on. It could fund two or three excellent midfield options, or perhaps another striker. This would add real depth and strength to the squad. Pogba would be nice to have but not essential. At a world record-breaking fee, he certainly wouldn’t make financial sense.