Premier League: Why Manchester United need to sell Paul Pogba immediately
Many Manchester United fans are unhappy with the current imbroglio at the famous Theatre of Dreams. Watching their club falter has been rather painful, and Paul Pogba's recent interview in Tokyo only slams the door in their faces.
Speaking to reporters about his future, Pogba said:
“After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well... I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else.
Now you've been caught up. And that may make it a little clearer why United need to sell one of the world's highest-rated midfielders. He hasn't been a great piece of business, and if his last interview is anything to go by, he clearly doesn't want to be at Old Trafford for much longer.
Remember when Pogba first came to Manchester United? He was an academy player with an undeniably bright future, a kind of player that seemingly comes once every generation. Yet, that contentious ability to be at odds with authority made the news more than young Pogba's ability on the pitch.
After all, what media house doesn't love the mix of star potential, brash attitude and conflict in a sportsperson?
United's legendary gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson has regularly blamed Pogba's £800,000 exit to Juventus on the star's agent Mino Raiola (who is just as controversial as the 26-year-old World Cup winner). Ferguson, writing about the deal in his book Leading, explained that he distrusted Raniola from the moment they met. Raniola, already close to Pogba's family, convinced the young star that United wasn't right for him.
While Sir Ferguson's words hold some degree of truth, they don't apportion the blame honestly. Young Pogba wanted more playing time. He expected it and demanded it. Fergie, on the other hand, didn't think he was ready.
Stories about Pogba crying due to mistreatment soon circulated across the tabloids. Ferguson choosing not to play the then 19-year-old was seen as punishment, but the gaffer maintained that the teenager wasn't ready.
The teenager managed to get only three appearances in the Premier League before making the decision to leave for Turin.
Pogba is a controversial player who was not easy to manage when he was a 19-year-old star with potential. Seven years have gone by, and nothing much has changed.
He had his differences with Alex Ferguson and left for Turin to become a star. During the Euro 2016, after the media pounced on him for his poor performance in the opening game, Pogba seemingly used the bras d’honneur (a notable obscene gesture in Europe) while celebrating Dimitri Payet's goal in the next match.
His more recent quarrels with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford are still fresh in our memories. He lost the vice-captaincy because of his attitude, remained on the bench for a number of matches, and had a training ground row with Mourinho.
Pogba has problems with discipline, and this doesn't make it easy for any manager who has to handle his antics. Losing the captaincy made him an even more difficult player at United.
Famously, when Mourinho was eventually fired, it didn't take Pogba long to post a cryptic mischievous-looking picture of himself on Instagram with the words "Caption this!" Talk about bad timing.
While United explained it was a marketing post for Adidas that was already scheduled to be released before Mourinho's exit was announced, is it hard to imagine they were just trying to fix such a PR disaster?
The blessing came to Old Trafford in the form of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the whole team bounced back - Pogba included. They were excited to get rid of Mourinho. But once the we-have-a-new-manager zeal died, they returned to that sorry run of form that club officials had just fired Mourinho for.
Fans across the world realized the problem was never Mourinho, it was the players.
Today, Pogba is at the epicentre of the crazed transfer rumour tornado, and he hasn't exactly helped to keep those rumours at bay. Solskjaer, after a poor end to the season, has the direct hands-on task of assembling the perfect squad. And while the manager is trying to re-balance the squad with experience, youth and ability, the most capable player to lead the squad is making open flirtations and come-and-get-me pleas to continental rivals Real Madrid.
A team going through a rebuild, like Manchester United, needs important players to keep their heads on their shoulders and ease the manager's work by helping new players settle down with the club. Pogba, instead, has continued the same antics Mourinho would have certainly found ways to punish him for.
With his last interview in Tokyo, it has become clear that Pogba doesn't want to be at Old Trafford. Every United fan knows how important it is to have players who are willing to go the extra mile for the shirt. Pogba doesn't look like one of those players anymore.
All he has shown are blips of excitement, inconsistency on the pitch, disregard for authority, disrespect for the club, and haircuts.
It's time for Solskjaer to sell those who are not only unable to improve squad harmony but also taking actions to cause disharmony. The gaffer is under a lot of pressure to rebuild a squad capable of challenging for honours nationally and continentally. United will not think twice about firing him, and he knows it. If he fails, the club will just lose yet another manager and 'Ole's at the wheel' will fade into abrupt nothingness.
Manchester United need to sell Pogba, and soon. They need to ensure that the midfielder leaves the club this summer transfer window. While he will always be regarded as a poor piece of business for United, the alternative is losing another solid manager and missing out on a pretty useful £85 million minimum that selling Pogba will bring.
Sell Pogba, whatever it takes. And build the team around someone who actually wants to be at the Theatre of Dreams.