A key reason Paul Pogba left Manchester United was because the contract extension offer they made was too little, too late, according to a new documentary.
Pogba walks away from Old Trafford a free agent in two weeks’ time having been bought for a record €105 million in 2016.
Despite that mammoth fee, a World Cup win and all the hype that surrounded his return from Juventus in Turin, the six years that followed at club level, bar the occasional masterclass, were an intense disappointment.
The Athletic report on a preview of “The Pogmentary”, to be shown on Amazon Prime from tomorrow, which sheds some light on Pogba’s world.
The film shows interesting discussions with the late Mino Raiola, who was the Frenchman’s agent, in which it was revealed that Pogba’s reaction to the offer United put on the table was to call it “nothing”.
The Athletic quotes the following section:
“Did Manchester (United) make a second offer?” Pogba asks.
“Yes. They absolutely want you to stay. For me, the offer doesn’t reflect that. I told them, ‘If you want him to stay, don’t make that offer’. I will make them understand that if they really want you to stay and they want to build a project around you, this time they have to act differently and put the money on the table.”
“They’re bluffing,” Pogba says. “How can you tell a player you absolutely want him and offer him nothing? Never seen that.”
In another section, the 29-year-old says “My thought process is to show Manchester that they made a mistake in waiting to give me a contract … and to show other clubs that Manchester had made a mistake in not offering me a contract.”
Author of the article Oliver Kay seems bemused by these comments, noting that United had in fact “made at least two offers worth more than the existing £290,000-a-week deal that had already made him one of the best-paid players in the Premier League.”
It seems from the report that Pogba and his entourage miscalculated and thought other offers would come rolling in that would be better than United’s.
This simply hasn’t been the case and that has led to him almost being left with the Hobson’s choice of returning to Juventus for a salary well below the one United had put on the table.
That is reported to be €8 million a year, which equates to just £132,000 a week.
Naturally, there will also be a big signing on fee involved, but on a three year deal that would have to be around the £25 million mark just to match the package offered by United.
The simple fact is that the World Cup winner has no other option. The report claims that there were no firm offers for him last summer and the only other club to show a serious interest were Manchester City, who Pogba concluded were “not the change of scenery” he needed.
In fact, Raiola clearly believed that he could do better for his client than Juve, saying:
“No, no … Juventus can’t afford you anymore. I’m here. I’m meeting also with Paris and I have already had two meetings with Barca. The market is like the sea: up, down, up, down.”
But with PSG investing so heavily in keeping Kylian Mbappé, Real Madrid opting for Pogba’s countryman Aurelien Tchouameni and with Barça’s ongoing financial problems, all Pogba’s other hopes have disappeared.
One caveat to that: There may be a sense that he might be stalling in regard to Juventus. Given that Barcelona were mentioned in the video, it may be that their key meeting today in regard to selling TV and merchandising rights to clear their debts could provide them the financial lifeline to make a late run for Pogba.
Any potential sale of Frenkie de Jong to United could also potentially change the landscape.
The sense throughout The Athletic’s article is that, Pogba has become like the club he is leaving; a brand, a business venture where football is almost demoted to second place to commercial considerations.
This is summed up by a scene with Rafaela Pimenta, the lawyer who has been handling Pogba’s affairs since Raiola’s death, who says:
“Pogba is something we built … It’s a brand. It has emojis, it has Pogmojis, it has cups. He has shows, he has haircuts and we hope to entertain people with that.”
United may well have dodged a bullet when the Frenchman turned his back on their renewal offer.