It’s one of the transfer sagas of the summer…he’s one of the most divisive players in world football…just what should Manchester United do about Paul Pogba?
The France international has had his ups and downs since his big-money move to Man Utd from Juventus in 2016, but it’s fair to say most would probably agree he hasn’t justified the hype or the money paid for him since that huge deal was announced.
Now linked with Real Madrid by Marca and others, Pogba continues to dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons as his agent Mino Raiola is quoted in the Times as saying he and his client are working on an escape from Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has publicly backed the player, though the Metro suggest he privately has plenty of concerns about his influence on the dressing room, particularly the club’s young players.
There’s no easy answer to such a complicated situation, so CaughtOffside writers had a little debate about the Pogba saga and put forward their views on what to do with the 26-year-old…
Mark Brus – SELL
First up, I want to make it clear that I rate Paul Pogba as a top class player, and don’t buy all the crap said about his social media antics, his hair, or his dancing being a distraction – many great players have done similar and worse without having their mentality repeatedly questioned in the same way.
He’s shown at Juventus and with France at last summer’s World Cup that he can be a world class performer on the biggest stage as long as the setup is right for him.
He’s no Roy Keane. He was never going to be the kind of player to take a game by the scruff of the neck and be a one-man midfield, but that’s true of many of the world’s best attacking players in recent times, and few have received quite the level of scrutiny that Pogba has.
It’s precisely because of that that I think United and Pogba need to end their time together now. It would take something super-human for the Frenchman to win these fans back as the atmosphere at Old Trafford has gone horribly toxic.
Quite simply, he’s the wrong player at the wrong club at the wrong time. Man Utd are in a major rebuilding process after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, and cannot give Pogba the squad around him that he needs to thrive. It may take some time before they’re anywhere near the level of the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Juventus.
Selling Pogba for big money now (they’ve set an asking price of £180m, according to the Marca link above) could be ideal to help them rebuild with one or two quality young players in key positions.
Through no particular fault of his own, Pogba has become too much of a distraction. He has become the scapegoat at a totally dysfunctional club, and for the sake of both sides, he should now go.
Robert Summerscales – KEEP (for now)
If United can get the £170m-ish they reportedly want, then they should sell him. And they should sell him now so he can be replaced before August 8. But it is very unlikely that any club are going to pay that sort of money for him… this summer at least.
United have Pogba under contract until 2021, with the option of extending his deal by another year. Therefore, they are in no position to be bullied. Pogba and Mino Raiola may well (or may not) cause a real stink in the coming weeks, but one would expect that once the window closes, the player will get on with his job.
Pogba is arguably more marketable than he is talented, but he is still an excellent midfielder – something United are very short of.
He was scapegoated to an extent last season. Old Trafford was a circus and Pogba vs Jose Mourinho was the headline act. This distracted from the reality that HE didn’t actually play that badly. United were dreadful but 13 Premier League goals and nine assists suggests that Pogba was the pick of a bad bunch. It must have been very frustrating to be one of the best players in an under-performing team, yet be hit with the majority of the blame for their shortcomings. You can see why he’d want to leave.
But, no. United shouldn’t be looking to sell their best player. They should be looking to support him. And that starts by improving the players around him.
If they can’t do that and if they have another stinking season, then selling Pogba next summer should still be no problem. In fact, considering the rate with which transfer fees are rising, they might even get that £170m in 2020.
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) July 10, 2019
Ron Carne – KEEP
There’s no doubt that Man Utd have a world-class player at their disposal, and although he showed his quality with the most productive season of his career to date last year, there’s still just something not quite right.
Different club, environment and set of circumstances, but the Frenchman was a hugely influential figure even at a young age at Juventus, and he was well on the path to being considered one of the best midfielders in Europe.
However, despite all the positives to his play, the constant scrutiny and criticism that he faces when perhaps not living up to the expectations he sets for himself and of others, it hasn’t quite clicked for him back in Manchester.
Despite that, the facts remain that he’s their most talented midfielder, is a hugely influential brand off the pitch and will be extremely difficult to efficiently replace given the current market and inflated prices. Solskjaer needs to build around him and bring in players to allow him to flourish in his most effective role, and perhaps then we’ll see the best of Pogba on a consistent basis in a United shirt and there will be no more excuses to hide behind.
Dale O’Donnell – SELL
It’s got to the point I think Paul Pogba should be sold. When Mino Raiola released a statement to talkSPORT on his client’s behalf last week, he made it clear the Frenchman wants to leave Old Trafford but also accused Manchester United of not protecting the player.
This goes beyond football because if it didn’t, I would be arguing reasons to keep Pogba.
The midfielder is anything but the leader people tried to make him out to be when France won the World Cup in 2018 and hasn’t exactly led by example at the club. Distraction after distraction, Pogba has not helped himself.
Considering the lack of quality additions over the past two years, perhaps the 26-year-old doesn’t see the club going in the direction he wants. Players like Nemanja Matic and Fred were both signed with the view of getting the best out of Pogba yet he’s still no better. Who do we blame for that?
Football fans are fickle and most will forget about this saga if Pogba decides to stay and starts the new season strongly, but is it worth it when Raiola will continue to stick his nose in and create a circus-like atmosphere?
The Pogba I’ve watched since 2016 is not worth that hassle.
Jaikuran Randhawa – SELL
Despite Pogba being United’s best performer last season, the superstar’s constant antics and decision to entertain rumours of an exit, have simply gone too far.
United finally have the chance to complete the major rebuild they’ve needed since Sir Alex Ferguson retired under club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In order to move on from unflattering performances, Solskjaer seriously needs to make a big change at the club and remind his players that no one is safe from the axe.
United’s biggest stars have shown a lack of desire and fight in recent seasons, and it’s hard to blame them when an expected leader of the team like Pogba is constantly forgiven for causing tension off the pitch.
Should United be able to get the £170m fee they wish for the midfielder this summer – they should sell. A move for Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez could transform their midfield, with AS suggesting the Manchester outfit are prepared to pay the star’s €150m release clause if Pogba leaves this summer.
United can’t handle another season of inconsistent performances and another summer of uncertainty from Pogba.
James Westwood – KEEP
The statistics show that Pogba was by far and away United’s top performer last season, despite being weighed down by unfair and unrealistic expectations.
Take him out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting line up and the link between the defence and attack would be non-existent.
Pogba’s agent seems to be the driving force behind exit talk, while the midfielder remains focused on his pre-season duties.
Shoring up the defence was Solskjaer’s priority, but now that has been attended to it would make more sense to offload Romelu Lukaku instead of selling Pogba.
His departure could help finance a move for Bruno Fernandes or Wissam Ben-Yedder – both of whom have the quality to contribute at least the same amount of goals and assists as the Belgian in an advanced role.
Pogba would not be as easy to replace and if United can finish their business smartly before August 8, the 26-year-old will finally have the team around him to help him achieve his goals at Old Trafford.