With just 12 weeks to go until Paul Pogba is free to talk to other clubs about a contract in 2022/23, the Frenchman’s future remains shrouded in doubt.
Both Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola would appear to be keeping their options open and it looks likely that there are five possible outcomes unless a surprise club comes in for him at the 11th hour.
But for all the manoeuvrings and machinations that the former pizza chef attempts on his client’s behalf, it is looking more and more as if he won’t be able to get blood out of a stone and that Pogba will be left with a simple choice: take a pay cut, and walk into whichever club he wants, or secure a more lucrative contract, in which case his options become very limited indeed.
One option lies in Italy. Gazzetta dello Sport (via The Express) claims that Juventus are making another attempt to re-sign Pogba, saying:
‘Juve are desperate to bring him back to Italy and are ready to put £10 million-per-year in wages on the table to set up a reunion with their former midfield general.
‘Juventus, who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and spent next to nothing in transfer fees this summer, would be willing to pay Pogba £200,000-per-week to make him one of their best paid players, but even those eye-watering figures would represent a significant pay cut from his United salary.
‘Pogba is said to earn around £290,000 a week at Old Trafford and given Juve’s financial position, it is unlikely that they would be able to offer him something similar.’
The feeling in Italy, as reported here yesterday, is that following his sentimental comments this week about his time in Turin, Pogba may be willing to accept such a pay cut to return to the club where he was most successful.
However, the player’s stated dream is to play for Real Madrid, and they too would almost certainly be willing to employ him at that sort of salary level, so it could be another bout of wishful thinking from the Old Lady.
Real have their own financial difficulties and intend to sign both Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland in the summer, so it is highly unlikely that they would come close to matching United’s offer, believed to be in the region of £400,000 per week, either.
Barcelona have also expressed their interest in signing him but despite offloading Lionel Messi, they too will almost certainly not be in a position to get anywhere close to that amount.
This leaves Paris Saint Germain. They have the means and the desire to bring the 28-year-old home to the French capital, but the question there remains whether the player will want to do that. Not only does he come from a family of Marseille supporters, which would make it tantamount to a lifelong United fan joining Liverpool, but it might also not offer sufficient challenge for the ambitious midfielder.
That ambition, along with Raiola’s determination to hike up the price, is probably what has left Pogba in limbo regarding the offer on the table from United. This will be most likely his last big contract, his last chance to win silverware. Will he feel that is possible at Old Trafford? Will he have enough faith in the manager – whether that is still Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or not – to deliver? Will he have enough faith in the club’s ambitions on the transfer market?
Whilst it is easy to write off Pogba’s hesitation as cynical and disloyal, an impression which is not helped by his agent’s unpleasant personality and showboating, he does have a very difficult decision to make, and one which will determine how the rest of his career plays out.