Paul Pogba, who remains the most expensive signing in Manchester United history (£94.50 million), might be out of Old Trafford by the end of the summer transfer window as PSG look to add the Frenchman to their star-studded lineup.
The transfer fee, however, would be a discount fee, in the range of £40-45 million (as per MARCA), as Pogba only has a year remaining on his contract, after which, he could leave on a free, and United have had enough regret of letting him leave the club on a free from the first time they did it when the Frenchman left for Juventus in 2012.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reiterated time & again that Pogba is a United player and that his future lies with the club. However, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, has different plans for his client while the player himself could profit out of a move away from United.
Can Manchester United let go of Paul Pogba?
A year ago, the answer to this question would have been a stern and resounding ‘No’, however, things have changed quite a bit in the last 12 months. Bruno Fernandes has become the most important player in the United set-up, but he has also become the best midfielder at the club. This would have surely irked Pogba to a certain extent, even though he shares a lot of camaraderie with his Portuguese teammate.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the 2018/19 season, Pogba had 27 goal involvements in 47 games for United, by far his best return since he joined the Red Devils in 2016. In the following two seasons, Pogba has made 64 appearances and has contributed to 20 goals in total. While a midfielder should not be judged on his goal involvements, Pogba has been replaced as the chief creator of this United team. He does not suit any other role in this team, especially not the one he is playing right now as a progressive central midfielder.
While he does have the ability to dribble past people and progress with the ball up the pitch, that role also requires a lot of defensive work, something Pogba has not been able to provide. This led to United playing with Fred & McTominay in the holding roles to cover up for that defensive work.
However, there are 2 reasons why that might not work out this season and how United are planning for life without Pogba:
1) The Jadon Sancho conundrum:
Jadon Sancho’s arrival has meant that Manchester United will certainly function with a front three next season, but a front three without Bruno Fernandes, thus shifting the Portuguese into the midfield. This creates a problem for Solskajer, who understands that he cannot play three forwards with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba making up 2/3rd of the 3 man midfield.
Last season, because Fernandes was a part of the three-man frontline, Pogba could work his magic in the midfield. In the second half of the 2019/20 season, United did try out the 4-2-3-1 by playing three forwards and placing Pogba in the midfield, but that did not work out the way they would have wanted to as they did score a lot of goals but also conceded a heck lot of them.
Thus, United would be better off placing a more sensible midfielder in the 3 man midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes and whoever occupies the central defensive midfield role. Although rotations are possible, Solskjaer believes in the ideology of ‘if it is not broken, why fix it?’ while Paul Pogba would also not be happy playing only half the games in the season.
2) Saul Niguez and Eduardo Camavinga links:
Manchester United, who have already signed Sancho are also in the market for a central midfielder and this is a clear indication that the club are already planning for life without Paul Pogba.
The club have already contacted 18-year-old Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, while the latest reports also claim that United are already in contact with Saul Niguez’s agent. Both players are progressive midfielders while they also have a lot of defensive output, which suits the way United would want their progressive midfielder to play next season.
While there is no certainty on when PSG will go out and sign Pogba, the talks are said to be at an intermediary stage as of now (MARCA). PSG are looking at Pogba as the missing piece in their puzzle as they look to win the elusive Champions League for the first time in their history. The Champions League will also have piqued Pogba’s interest as he knows that he would stand a slightly better chance to win the trophy with the Parisians than the Red Devils. Moreover, a move to his home country would also be desirable to Pogba, while PSG would also provide him with humungous wages.
All in all, this move might benefit all three parties involved in this deal, and it might not be long before PSG agrees on a deal for the French superstar– an end to the Pogba transfer saga.