Whenmade the decision to make Paul Pogba the most expensive signing in the world they knew they were opening themselves up for potential embarrassment.
Having allowed him to joinfor next to nothing, with Sir Alex Ferguson criticising the player for the , it was a bold move to fork out £89million for him.
Ed Woodward clearly thought the midfielder was worth the risk though, having won four league titles in four seasons in, and ‘Pogback’ took the internet by storm.
Paul Pogba (centre) has been performing well for France during the European Championship
But the Frenchman’s Manchester United future remains uncertain as he enters the final year of his existing contract amid suggestions the club will offer him a lucrative new deal
With big-name manager Jose Mourinho in charge and a marquee signing arriving, United fans believed the foundations were being laid for the club to reclaim their long held position at the top of the table in years gone by.
‘I feel like I went for a holiday and now I’ve come back home and I’m happy,’
‘I think it’s destiny. First, my mum told me I would come back here. And I said, “You never know, we’ll see”, and also it is a big challenge for me to come back here. I started here and I came back to finish the job.
‘They say, “Your mum is always right”, and obviously she was this time. I was meant to come back here. I feel this. I always had this United thing in my heart and that’s why I came back and I’m happy.’
It hasn’t quite worked out as planned though, with supporters divided on Pogba’s influence on the field, and the Frenchman rarely dominating in the way it had been expected.
Pogba was delighted when he returned to Old Trafford in an £89million deal in summer 2016
But the midfielder has seldom hit the heights expected during his five years at Old Trafford
At Old Trafford, he hasn’t been blessed with playing alongside midfielders like Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, and those who have continued to champion Pogba have long called for a signing to ‘unlock’ him.
The likes of Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay haven’t been able to give Pogba the platform and freedom he’s needed to thrive, it’s been claimed.
A very public falling out with Mourinho, with Pogbawhich was reportedly met with further split the fan base.
Whether it was his latest haircut or presence on social media, Pogba has drawn in plenty of unfair criticism, but he has done himself no favours when it comes to who he employs as his agent.
Pogba and Jose Mourinho certainly didn’t see eye to eye during the manager’s United tenure
His relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been much better but a decision over his future must be made this summer or United risk losing him for nothing
It’s in Mino Raiola’s best interest to orchestrate big-money moves for his client and he doesn’t appear to care how destructive that might be for Pogba’s club or his relationship with the supporters.
Often coming out in the lead-up to big games with commentsonly fractures the trust and faith the fans have in the player, questioning why he allows his paid representative to behave in such a disrespectful way.
Even the staunchest supporters of the Frenchman struggle to defend his deafening silence whenever Raiola makes an appearance in the press to criticise the club.
The reality is, while Pogba has had good games and spells for United, he’s never reached the consistent heights of his time in Serie A or been the presence he was for France during their successful 2018 World Cup campaign.
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has often proved a disruptive influence for Manchester United
Pogba became a world champion with France but has rarely scaled the heights for United
Pogba delivered theahead of their big games and even scored in the final, but United haven’t experienced him dragging the team forward like he has done elsewhere.
With just a year remaining on his current contract, reports suggest the club are willing to make Pogba the best-paid player in the Premier League, which has received mixed reactions from the fans.
He’s clearly nowhere close to being the most influential player in the league, worthy of the sum he’s been linked with, but that doesn’t change the fact he is one of United’s most technically gifted players.
United have been in this position before with Wayne Rooney when he was awarded the biggest contract in the league after David Moyes replaced Ferguson.
The former manager had set things up nicely for Rooney to be moved on, revealing that the striker had asked for a transfer, but United and Moyes lost their bottle and gave an overinflated salary to a player whose best days were behind him.
There are echoes of the situation with Wayne Rooney in 2013 when he was given a lucrative new deal by United to stop him joining a rival despite his best years being behind him
United, with David Moyes newly installed as manager, couldn’t countenance a power shift
Losing Rooney to Chelsea for next to nothing in 2014, after they had, would have suggested a power shift the club weren’t comfortable with.
So through desperation and in a bid to save face, theywith him only lasting three seasons before returning to Everton.
While Pogba is now the same age Rooney was when he was offered that final contract, he hasn’t shown the clear signs of decline that the former captain had, but that doesn’t make the news any more palatable for some.
Pogba hasn’t earned a contract of the size that’s been rumoured and if United had shown any signs of having the capability of getting a deal done for a world-class replacement, you could argue the club might be better off looking elsewhere.
Pogba scores a stunner against Fulham in one of his highlights from last season at United
Cut ties with Raiola, who creates so much division, and give someone else the opportunity to make their mark at the club.
But United’s decision making and action in the transfer window has been lacking for a decade or more.
If United have any genuine aspirations of bettering the second place finish of last season, keeping Pogba may well be in their best interests.
It may well be that United need Pogba if they have aspirations of winning silverware again
Pogba and United came up short in the Europa League final against Villarreal in May
They can save themselves from the embarrassment of letting him leave for nothing, again, and hope he can prove himself worthy of the salary.
If not, at least they have the security of knowing a transfer fee would be owed in the not too distant future if Pogba was to leave.
The situation is far from ideal but United aren’t in a position to be ruthless and allow a quality player to depart, especially for free.
It may well be a marriage of convenience but the reality is United are likely better with Pogba in the team than they are without him.
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