Pogba wants to leave, United will sell at the right price, but clubs have plenty of work to do get the financials right
Saturday 22 June 2019 13:17, UK
Paul Pogba's move to Manchester United in 2016 was the big return - #POGBACK - with plenty of unfinished business. In the coming weeks, that business may be shelved for good.
Sky Sports News understands the 26-year-old wants to leave Old Trafford. He recently admitted during a commercial event in Tokyo: "It could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else."
With that, the world of football braced itself for another summer-long saga.
Here, we assess the likelihood of Pogba's departure from Old Trafford, whether United will miss the Frenchman, and who could replace him...
Pogba wants to leave Manchester United and wants to play in the Champions League.
The club accept they may need to sell him soon. Why? Because his value is diminishing, and with two years remaining on his current contract - plus the option of a further year - it's unlikely he will sign a new deal.
During a promotional tour in Japan, Pogba said: "I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this."
It is thought Pogba made these comments to force United to sell him.
This is where it gets tricky. United would take £150m for Pogba, a decent profit on the £93.25m paid in 2016, and there are three clubs in the mix, but these deals are never completed overnight, or even one week. His wages, thought to be £290k-a-week, also provide a problem...
Real Madrid - The Spanish giants want to sign Pogba, but have spent £250m on new players and have concerns over meeting Financial Fair Play requirements. The poor relationship between club president Florentino Perez and Pogba's agent Mino Raiola - bad blood between the pair that goes way back - may also be a sticking point.
The bottom line is: if they really want him, they will find a solution. In March, Pogba said: "Real Madrid is a dream for anyone. It's one of the biggest clubs in the world. There is also Zinedine Zidane as a coach and it's a dream for anybody who likes football."
Juventus - There are doubts Pogba's former side would pay £150m, and new boss Maurizio Sarri is thought to be unsure about his suitability, but he is on a three-man shortlist of midfielders alongside Adrien Rabiot, who is close to signing, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Pogba would prefer to rejoin Juventus over a move to Real Madrid if he leaves United, according to Sky in Italy, but Juve are trying to find a way to match his wage demands before approaching United.
PSG - The French club aren't 100 per cent keen on Pogba, but Raiola is currently talking to the club about Matthijs de Ligt, and it would be a surprise if Pogba is not at least brought up in passing...
Elsewhere, Barcelona are working to bring in Antoine Griezmann, and though they wanted Pogba last summer, there is little desire this time.
Sky Sports News understands United expect Pogba to stay, but accept a situation may arise whereby it would be best to allow their record signing to depart.
After all, every player has a right price.
While they would ideally like to keep him, some at United are understood to have concerns about Pogba's behaviour and his negative influence over a number of the younger members of the squad.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to build a younger, hungrier side - United have signed 21-year-old Daniel James, want 19-year-old Max Aarons and have bid big for 21-year-old Aaron Wan-Bissaka - after a disappointing sixth-place finish last season, and two trophyless campaigns.
Solskjaer wants to get United's business done as early as possible, and United players are due back in training at the beginning of July. After Pogba's comments in Japan, and his popularity among many players, the atmosphere will be interesting.
Pogba wants to leave, United will sell at the right price, but clubs have plenty of work to do get the financials right.
Spanish football expert Terry Gibson feels a move to the Bernabeu makes sense for both Pogba and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, but they'll have to finance it with some player sales...
Speaking on the latest Transfer Talk Podcast, Gibson said: "I do expect Real to sign Pogba, purely for the reason that Zidane returned to the club and was given the power he didn't have before. Zidane has been as polite as he possibly could, but he's flirted with the fact he wanted Pogba, and Pogba has made no secret.
"You can just imagine a French midfield player wanting to go to Real Madrid, wanting to play under arguably the best French midfield player of all time who's held in such high regard. If Zidane is flirting with you to come to Real Madrid, I fear for Manchester United supporters, or those that want Pogba to stay. I think it's inevitable, though United will put up a fight and try and get as much money as they can.
"Somehow Real Madrid are finding the money; they think they are going to get more than enough money from the players they want to move on to cover the fees for Hazard, Jovic, young Rodrigo from Brazil, Militao from Porto, Mendy from Lyon and they still want to go for Pogba. They are going to have to raise some finances in terms of their player sales, but it's exciting times."
Pogba's talent is not in question. The major concern surrounds consistency.
Jose Mourinho wanted his energy in attacking areas to be matched in the defensive third, and though Solskjaer's loosening of those shackles early on saw a huge improvement in form, Pogba struggled again in the latter months of the 2018/19 season.
Pogba's distance statistics don't make for good reading. Out of 149 Premier League midfielders measured last season, Pogba comes 8th in percentage of time spent walking (38.13 per cent), and 141st in average distance per 90 minutes (10.61km). His average speed of 6.56kmph is also ranked 134th.
|Rank among PL midfielders|
|Time spent walking||38.13%||8/149|
Defensively, his 0.54 interceptions per game has him 126th out of 149 midfielders and his 1.14 tackles per game puts him 113th, but he does win on average seven duels per game, ranking him 21st.
|Rank among PL midfielders|
|Interceptions per game||0.54||126/149|
|Tackles per game||1.14||113/149|
|Duels won per game||7||21/149|
Despite concerns over his defensive work, his involvement in front of goal is not something to be sniffed at. Make no mistake, Pogba would need to be replaced.
Among all Premier League midfielders, Pogba comes fourth for minutes/goal, fourth for minutes/goal involvement, third for shots/90 minutes and second for shots on target/90 minutes.
|Rank among PL midfielders|
|Shots on target/90 mins||1.50||2/149|
United will no doubt be planning ahead for all eventualities - a reactive approach to a Pogba sale would leave little time given the window closes on August 8.
Reports suggest United have made enquiries for Youri Tielemans, impressive on loan at Leicester from Monaco last season, a move which would cost around £35m, but West Ham have told United they have no intention of selling Declan Rice this summer.
United have also been heavily linked with Real Betis' Giovani Lo Celso, valued at £67m, Newcastle's Sean Longstaff, though no approach has been made, and more loosely linked with Ajax's Donny van de Beek and Sporting Lisbon's Bruno Fernandes.
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