In the summer of 2016, Manchester United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus for a then-record transfer fee of £89.3 million. Ironically, the Red Devils allowed Pogba to leave for free back in 2012. Even during his time at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho wanted to sign Pogba but the player refused to move to Stamford Bridge.
In any transfer market, be it inflated or not, a fee of £89.3m is something very few clubs in world football can afford. However, when a player joins a club for a record transfer fee, big things are expected of him. Something similar was the expectation for Paul Pogba when the prodigal son returned home to Old Trafford.
Not only this, but the Red Devils have so far forked out in excess of £150 million for him. £89m on his transfer fee, plus agent fees of £21 million and £15 million per-year in salary for four years, which equates to £60 million. Thus, they have spent £170 million on Paul Pogba so far.
In a strict statistical sense, the Frenchman has made 164 appearances for United, scoring 32 goals and further providing 33 assists. These are not the kind of stats you would want from one of your recording signings. However, football is not all about stats and they can be often misleading. Apart from goals and assists, Paul Pogba has much more to offer.
Paul Pogba's on-the-field problems
During his first season, it was unclear as to why United spent so much money on him. They were unsure what position would be best and it was often said that he needs better players around him like he had at Juventus. On the other hand, it was argued that world-class players don't need other top players to influence their game. Thus, rather than being dependant upon his teammates, Paul Pogba should be able to raise the bar himself.
Some have also cited how Bruno Fernandes managed to hit the ground running compared to Paul Pogba. The United team that Pogba joined was better than the United team that Fernandes joined. Despite this, the Portuguese managed to have such a good impact while for Pogba, his position was not clear and he needed better players around him. In another aspect, why was only Paul Pogba scrutinised and criticised so much? The answer is simple. Pogba is the club's record signing.
When a club spends so much money on a player, fans and pundits would expect him to give at least 80% every game. The presumption here is that the club has spent so much money on a single player because he is worth the effort and the money.
After a certain point in time, it became clear that Paul Pogba is the kind of midfielder who runs the game for you with his excellent passing range. However, the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea got deals for Toni Kroos and Cesc Fabregas for a third of what United paid for Pogba. Both players joined their respective clubs just two years prior to Pogba's transfer to United.
While City also splashed the cash for Kevin De Bruyne, he is now touted as the next potential Premier League great, though the same can't be said for Paul Pogba. It has been argued that the Frenchman has a brand value as well, but no one football club would want to splash £89.3m for just commercial reasons. The main reason why he was signed was to win games, which he hasn't really been able to do.
It is clearly evident that United paid an exorbitant fee for Paul Pogba, while players who, at that time, were better than him were signed for far less by other clubs. When City spent big on De Bryune, the Belgian managed to back that fee with his performances. During his four years at Old Trafford, Pogba's performances have been inconsistent and it is clear that he is yet to justify his transfer fee.
Paul Pogba's off-the-field problems
The latest news about Paul Pogba is that he is now ready to sign a contract extension with United. However, before this there was a flood of news and plenty of rumours suggesting he wants to leave the club. The Frenchman was constantly linked with a move away from the club with Real Madrid and his former club Juventus heavily linked with him.
The issue is not that Paul Pogba wanted to leave, the fact that he wanted leave was because he considered United not good enough for him. If he had performed well consistently then his desire to leave would have been justified, instead, he hasn't been consistent. If we look at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang situation at Arsenal, the Gabon international has been superb for Gunners but his team often lets him down, so it is understandable he wanted to leave.
The Red Devils overspent on him. He hasn't backed that money up with his performances and was the one who wanted to leave, not to forget the big salary that he draws every week of £290,000. It is clear that there are players who are better than him in the Premier League but they don't get the same kind of money. The likes of Harry Kane, N'Golo Kante, Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk all actually earn less than Paul Pogba.
Considering the insane amount of money they have spent on him on the transfer fee, agent commission and wages, it hasn't been worth it so far. There were certain expectations from Paul Pogba but he hasn't been good enough. The constant media speculation that he wants to leave United have been around for almost two years.
The Frenchman's inconsistent performances clearly show that it hasn't been worth the time or energy United have spent on him. Even though there are rumours that he ready to sign a new deal, it is likely the current financial crises that both Juventus and Real Madrid face means they can't afford to sign him.
It is not like Paul Pogba is not a good player, he is an outstanding player, but it has been four years now since he joined United. Even now it is talked about how good he can be or what he is capable of doing. He has shown that, on his day, he can win games for United. For example, the 3-2 Manchester derby win at the Etihad Stadium, in which he scored twice.
However, such flashes of brilliance have been rare, considering the amount of money United have spent on him. However, he only 27 years old and could still show that the Red Devils were justified in spending £89.3 million on Paul Pogba, plus other expenses.Published 14 Sep 2020, 06:24 IST