Reports that Paris St Germain are in contact with Paul Pogba’s ‘entourage’ have set tongues wagging in the football transfer world overnight.
The news was broken by the reliable Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport, pitched almost as an ‘aside’ to the bigger stories of Sergio Ramos completing his move from Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappé’s ongoing refusal to sign a new contract at the French club.
‘PSG are still studying the situations of midfielders Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes) and Paul Pogba (Manchester United), who has only one year left on his contract, just like that of Lionel Messi, officially free since the end of his engagement with Barça on June 30.
‘Regarding Paul Pogba, discussions are taking place with his entourage and les Bleus’ midfielder seems more and more open to the idea of joining Paris.’
In some ways, this all makes sense; Pogba only has a year left on his contract. Mbappe could be leaving for Real Madrid, and PSG will have cash in the bank and the desire to find a galactico to replace the outgoing star – a French galactico at that.
Pogba’s other two options, Juventus and Real Madrid themselves, do not look viable this summer. The Old Lady’s former sporting director Fabio Paratici has gone on record this week to say that Juve were never close to re-signing Pogba and with it now looking increasingly likely that Cristiano Ronaldo will see out his contract in Turin, there is no money nor room on the wage bill left for the Frenchman.
Real’s attentions are all on Mbappé and at this stage, it is unclear whether they will ever be back in for the United man. His greatest advocate at the Bernabeu was former head coach Zinedine Zidane, although an impressive Euro 2020 may have improved his chances should their bid for Mbappé fail.
So that, in all likelihood, leaves the French connection. However, there is one big problem with Pogba to PSG, and that is the Anelka question.
Former PSG star Nicholas Anelka wrote a column yesterday in The Athletic in the form of a letter addressed to Mbappé, the message of which was clear: if you want to win the Ballon d’Or, you won’t do it at PSG.
Simply put, to be regarded as the world’s best, a player needs to be challenged week in, week out in Europe’s top leagues, which means either Spain or England, or perhaps at a pinch, Italy.
Pogba will know that he can become one of football’s Harlem Globetrotters in Paris but he is an ambitious man. His stated reason for being unsettled at Old Trafford, according to his agent Mino Raiola, was that he wants to win trophies and he was unsure of the direction United were heading. If that is true, then what is the lure of PSG, where the only hope of glory each year is the Champions League?
The mention of Raiola’s name leads us back to Bouhafsi’s claim that ‘discussions are taking place with his entourage’. Who is the main man in his entourage? Mino Raiola, who is a pragmatist above all else. He will know that Juve and Real are off the agenda and so his best option now could be to secure a lucrative new contract at Old Trafford for his player. And the best way to do that would be the old agent’s trick of talking up another club’s interest in your player so that the home club panics into increasing the offer to stay.
That, of course, is not to say that PSG are not genuinely interested in signing the 28-year-old, but is he really ‘more and more open to the idea of joining Paris’? The door may have become slightly ajar, but at this stage it seems unlikely to be opening much further.