One can barely have enough of the Paul Pogba transfer rumours, even after the summer transfer window closed earlier in the week. And despite the rumour mongering expected to take a back seat for the next four months, the speculation surrounding the future of French football’s poster boy Pogba refuse to go away.
Pogba is one of the hottest properties around in world football, not only because of the player he has turned into in recent years, but also because of the grand global icon he is developing into. With next year’s Euro 2016 set to be held in Pogba’s homeland, there are keener eyes on the 22-year-old Bianconeri midfielder.
It is expected Pogba won’t remain with the Old Lady for long; just how many big clubs are involved in the race for his signature clearly points to the general consensus the midfielder will be traded to one of Juventus’ fellow European heavyweight clubs in the future or even as early as next summer.
With almost all the big clubs in the big European leagues vying to lure Pogba away, we analyse the prospects of the six clubs who are part of the “great Pogba chase,” and weigh up the pros and cons of the player’s possible move to the respective clubs, whether his signing will be good business or not, and how he could take his potential new club up another notch.
The Blaugrana were serving a transfer embargo this summer which prevented them from making noises about going for Pogba. After the departure of Xavi at the end of last season, there are speculation Pogba has been earmarked as his replacement but things are far from done at the moment. With Barcelona all conquering last season, signing Pogba would make them virtually invincible, on paper at least.
A central midfielder of the box-to-box variety, Pogba will offer another dimension to Barcelona’s patterns of play, but his signing would also require the Catalans to significantly alter the way they approach their games. At the moment, their orientations are heavily centred around the talents of Lionel Messi, and whether the status quo remains unchanged after Pogba’s signing is difficult to predict.
Captain Andres Iniesta’s age is on the wrong side of 30, and like Xavi, he won’t be around forever. While Barcelona have always taken pride in promoting from within when it comes to their spine, there have been quality additions from abroad like Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup and Deco over the years which mean there should be ample reasons to get Pogba if an opportunity arises, as players of his ilk are rare commodities.
Los Blancos’ chase for Pogba is seemingly off for now since they haven’t fully recovered from the setback of missing out on David De Gea this summer. However, Real Madrid are never far away when it comes to signing the best players, and Pogba could be heavily pursued by the Bernabeu outfit next year. Quite how he will fit in is another problem, but the club have always shown ambition in the transfer market.
Real Madrid already possess a world class midfield comprising of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez, Isco and Mateo Kovacic and them going after Pogba can only be understandable after judging their current campaign under the new management of Rafael Benitez. However, Real Madrid’s history of making extravagant purchases could see the repeat of the Zinedine Zidane transfer next summer.
One advantage for Real Madrid in their Pogba chase is the French contingent currently at the club. Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane are key players for both club and country, while Zidane’s influence in the club’s matters could be instrumental. As far as team dynamics go, Pogba offers little else than what is currently available at Real Madrid, but as they say, the best players can fit anywhere.
The Blues were believed to be the closest to signing Pogba this summer, only to be reportedly snubbed by the midfielder. However, with their financial muscle, another go at the Frenchman next year couldn’t be ruled out. Jose Mourinho’s side are in desperate need of freshening their midfield, and Pogba could just be the answer to a midfield which has been uncharacteristically out of form this season.
While Chelsea have to wait another year at the very least to get anywhere close to their target, a transfer would seemingly suit both parties. Chelsea’s problems in the control area of midfield could be eased and the player also gets an intermediate launchpad to move to the bigger clubs like Spain’s top two and Bayern Munich in the future. Or go on for bigger things in the blue of Chelsea.
One potential downside with a Chelsea move for Pogba is the lesser guarantee of success than at Barcelona or Real Madrid. The Premier League, with all the money coming in, is fast turning into one of the most competitive leagues in the world and success for a club is rarely sustainable for a longer duration owing to the strength of the rival clubs. However, the prospect of Pogba offering more dynamism to a somewhat one-dimensional Chelsea midfield could see them heavily pursue the young star.
It is difficult to see Manchester City going full throttle for Pogba’s signature given their already strong squad of players. But the Citizens are never far away in discussions regarding a top player, and they could be in for the Frenchman next summer. City’s struggles in the continent are well documented, and signing a player of Pogba’s ilk immediately takes them into the next level.
There are reasons to believe Pogba is wanted by Manchester City. Their midfield powerhouse, Yaya Toure, has already turned 32 and with just two more years on his contract, the need to add another world class midfielder to replace the talents of Toure will be top of their agendas in the immediate future. It doesn’t, in any way, imply Toure is unwanted at the club, but the fact is he will be a shadow of his current self sooner or later.
However, a potential caveat for the Citizens regarding a move for Pogba is whether they could afford to spend the money his signing would demand. City are under pressure to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, and having spent upwards of £100m this summer, they will be under restrictions to pay huge money to lure Pogba to Eastlands, which is why City’s pursuit looks already over, on paper at least.
The Red Devils’ policy of actively chasing world class players backfired this summer as they failed to land their primary targets while having had to remain content with a panic buy on deadline day. As Pogba isn’t out of their reach by any means, it is widely expected Manchester United will be one of the clubs to register their interest in the midfielder next year.
Despite strengthening their midfield considerably, there is a sense of a missing link in the centre of the park. And this is where Pogba comes in as the answer. The 22-year-old will add energy and impetus to Louis van Gaal’s side, while his signing also has the potential to make United the domineering force they once were both domestically and in Europe.
A stumbling block for United in the race for Pogba is the player’s lack of interest in joining his former club. Once in the books of the club, Pogba’s chances of returning to Old Trafford are as bleak as United bringing back Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. His ex-team-mate Andrea Pirlo even revealed the Frenchman had no desire to go back to United, solely because of how he was treated at the club last time around.
Earlier this summer, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, the same man who represents the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mario Balotelli, said six clubs were after the Frenchman and Bayern Munich were understood to be one of them. The Bavarians are blessed with world class midfielders and going all out to bring in a player who will probably break their transfer record makes little sense.
However, the transfer market is a silly place, where even the most unexpected things happen. Pogba moving to Bayern is an interesting prospect, and will open up a whole new world of possibilities for their manager Pep Guardiola. But having signed Arturo Vidal from Juventus only this summer, a move for a similar kind of player next year is hardly the stuff Bayern are known for.
Pogba’s move to the Allianz Arena isn’t a given, although his signing has the potential to propel Bayern to a different league altogether with respect to the other Bundesliga clubs. A bona fide star, Pogba has all the tools necessary to be a Bayern star, but all of it lies on the condition whether he moves to Germany or not, which looks unlikely at this juncture.