Manchester United could be about to pay ultimate price for their Paul Pogba mistake – Richard Fay

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There are not many Manchester United fans who will be too bothered when Paul Pogba leaves for free this summer. But that might change if he ends up signing for Man City instead.

Pogba hasn’t needed to publicly announce he is leaving this summer for it to be widely accepted that he will, and the mere suggestion he could sign for Pep Guardiola’s side at the end of the season has hardly come as a surprise either.

Pogba, 29, has been a divisive figure ever since he re-joined the club from Juventus six years ago, failing to ever find consistency and rarely managing to have an influence on big matches.

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From a playing point of view, losing the Frenchman won’t be much of a hit at the end of the season, though it would only be further bad news for the PR department if a player they spent a world-record fee on in 2016 , then leaves for free again, and joins their nearest rivals at that.

United’s initial move to sign Pogba was as much about providing their bravado as it was about strengthening their side, with the club desperate to prove they were still the biggest in England as they approached another season in the Europa League, when they spent a then world -record £89million fee on him.

With such a price-tag came the need to fit Pogba into the side whenever possible, and although he has had world-class spells at the club, he’s always been somewhat of an awkward fit, representing a luxury at a time when United were failing to do the basics.

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At international level he shone, in part due to the slower pace of national team football over the course of short bursts of matches, and also because he had an extreme athlete in N’Golo Kante alongside him happy to do the dirty work, which covered his shortcomings.

At United, that hasn’t been replicated. The midfield has been selected by a tombola at times and his brief spells of brilliance have always come on the rare occurrence when United have had temporary consistency across the middle of the pitch.

Pogba is an excellent footballer, but only when used in the right way. In a hard-working team, he can be the perfect finishing touch, but in a dysfunctional one, he only amplifies the problems. His six years at Old Trafford have been associated with the latter.

A move to City, where he could well be successful, would not only be further salt in the wounds, but it would also be further punishment for United for failing to sell him when they had the chance.

Pogba’s late agent, Mino Raiola, offered the player to City in January 2018, and Pogba said in the summer of 2019 it was ‘time for a new challenge’. Raiola admitted later that year he was ‘sorry’ not to have engineered a transfer to Real Madrid.

In December 2020, Raiola claimed it was ‘over’ for Pogba at United and outlined his intention to broker a transfer at the end of the season.



Guardiola speaks to Paul Pogba after United's famous Manchester derby win over City in April 2018
Guardiola speaks to Paul Pogba after United’s famous Manchester derby win over City in April 2018

The former Juventus star’s closest teammates felt it was in the best interests of the player and the club that he be allowed to leave, but the Covid-19 pandemic effectively scuppered any possible move in the last two summers, unless the club had bit the bullet and taken a significant loss on their investment.

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It must be said that while Pogba has been open about his desire to leave United, teammates have respected his professionalism, and he remains a popular figure at the club’s Carrington training complex.

A move to City could appeal given lifestyle choice will be critical to Pogba’s destination as his eldest son, Labile Shakur, is due to start school next year and his wife, Zulay, currently works in design in Cheshire.

Such a scenario could see the best of Pogba once again, with Guardiola’s side potentially the perfect place to accommodate such a luxury.

Three weeks after some Old Trafford fans chanted for him to ‘f*** off’ as he was substituted against Norwich, they may get their wish, though the chant might need to be repeated if he revisits wearing blue in the years ahead.

In any of the last transfer windows, United would have had to take a financial hit to sell Pogba, but him joining City for free would be an even bigger price to pay.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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