A new report from The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell has lifted the lid on Paul Pogba’s position and future at Manchester United.
The Frenchman remains United’s most expensive ever signing but his inconsistent form and constant presence in the media, often in relation to flirtations with other clubs, have made him a divisive figure among fans and the media.
Both Real Madrid and his former club Juventus have tried over recent seasons to acquire Pogba’s services but United have either refused to negotiate at all or slapped on a deliberately over-inflated, pre-emptive asking price.
But with the player showing poor form at the club and June signalling the start of the final season of his contract, United are now keen to sell – but will struggle to find buyers.
‘United placed a £150 million price on Pogba’s head in the summer of last year, but by February industry insiders thought £80 million was more realistic,’ Whitwell claims.
‘Then the pandemic hit and, looking ahead, it is anyone’s guess what United could get for a player who will be entering the final 12 months of his contract.
‘The common consensus is United would be forced to “take a hit” on Pogba’s £89 million purchase cost.
‘There are some close to the club who feel any bids in the region of £40 million should come under consideration because that money could be reinvested in players who have fully bought into life at Old Trafford.’
But it is not just a case of lowering the asking price because of the financial crisis. United’s failure to come to the table with lowered expectations will mean that in June 2022 they will lose the player on a free transfer for the second time and in the meantime will be paying over a million euros a month for a player who is under-performing and does not want to be there.
‘Tentative talks over a new contract have previously been held but with the 27-year-old showing little inclination to staying beyond the end of next season — when his current deal expires — discussions have been parked,’ Whitwell reports.
‘Sources say that ultimately Pogba still wants to leave and he now views doing so as a free agent to be a plausible route. The theory is it would allow him “his pick” of clubs at age 29.
‘The alternative is to secure a sale in one of three intervening transfer windows… But as the months tick by, his potential value drops. “He is a diminishing asset,” says an agent.
‘An insider adds on Pogba: “I think United would like to sell him and he’d like to go, but there isn’t a club there.”’
Whitwell reports another club insider referring to Pogba as ‘a show pony’ before concluding that the club’s dysfunctionality is largely responsible for the current situation. That is something with which few fans, whatever their opinion on Pogba, would disagree.
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