Mino Raiola has said the ‘best solution’ for Paul Pogba and Manchester United is a transfer away in January – could one of Europe’s super ...
Mino Raiola has said the ‘best solution’ for Paul Pogba and Manchester United is a transfer away in January – could one of Europe’s super clubs come calling?
Paul Pogba’s time at Manchester United is “over” according to his agent Mino Raiola, but where and when exactly the midfielder will depart Old Trafford remains a mystery.
Raiola’s bombshell announcement came on the eve of Manchester United’s crucial Champions League game at RB Leipzig on Tuesday, a match they lost to finish third in Group H.
“Paul is unhappy,” Raiola told Tuttosport. “He is no longer able to express himself as he would like and as expected of him.
“He has to change teams; he has to change the air. He has a contract that will expire in a year and a half, but I think the best solution for the parties is to sell him in the next market.”
The timing of the comments, and their abruptness, prompted several United players-turned-pundits to heavily criticise Raiola and urge Pogba to either cut ties with the super-agent or come out and admit himself that he wants to leave.
“Paul pays this man to represent him,” Paul Scholes said on BT Sport. “Paul has two options: tell him to shut up, or he sacks him.” Rio Ferdinand added: “I think the timing is disgusting from a player’s agent, an important player at the club’s agent… [United are] being destabilised by an agent and they’re allowing it.”
Meanwhile, Gary Neville said on Twitter: “It’s happened many times before. However surely Paul knew he was making this announcement? If he wasn’t aware then we should see a quote from him very soon correcting his agent.”
And while the fallout continues, and with United picking up the pieces after a Champions League group stage exit, speculation has already started as to where Pogba could end up – potentially even in January when the transfer window re-opens.
Paul Pogba next club odds
Juventus are the bookmakers’ favourites to re-sign Pogba more than four years after he left the club to return to Manchester United.
The fee in August 2016 was then a world-record £89.3m, with Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta revealing Raiola received £24.1m for his part in securing Pogba’s move back to England.
Should Pogba fancy a second stint at Juve then it would mean the Serie A champions must deal with Raiola all over again, but the agent’s substantial fees did not deter the club from pursuing another one of his clients, Matthijs de Ligt, who joined from Ajax for £67.8m in 2019.
Raiola negotiated a salary of €460,000 (£414,000) a week after add-ons for De Ligt, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, while the agent himself reportedly pocketed €11m (£9.9m) when finalising the transfer.
Proof, as if it were needed, that the club who want Pogba must be in a strong position financially.
Real Madrid (4-1)
With a presidential election looming at Real Madrid in 2021, incumbent Florentino Perez may feel the time is right to make another marquee signing.
Pobga would certainly fit the Galactico bill, while the 27-year-old should also have little problem forcing his way into the starting XI, especially if compatriot Zinedine Zidane withstands their latest blip and remains as head coach.
His arrival could push 35-year-old Luka Modric closer to the exit door, particularly as the Croatian’s contract expires in the summer with no talk of an extension transpiring so far.
As recently as October, Pogba admitted joining Real would be a dream. He told reporters: “All football players would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me, why not one day?”
He also added a sentiment which United would perhaps like to be echoed some two months later. “I am in Manchester and I love my club,” he said. “I am playing in Manchester, I’m having fun and I want to do everything to put the club where it deserves.”
|Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (R) and Paris St Germain’s Ander Herrera after their December clash|
Paris Saint-Germain (8-1)
Is a homecoming in the offing? Pogba grew up in the eastern suburbs of Paris, and some 11 years after he left France to join United’s academy, Paris Saint-Germain’s status as a European heavyweight makes the possibility of the midfielder returning a distinct possibility.
PSG rarely shy away from an opportunity to flex their financial muscle, but on top of convincing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to join they have also signed Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera from United in recent years.
The two clubs have an amicable enough relationship away from the pitch, while on it United have twice upset the odds in Paris over the past two years before PSG exacted their revenge with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford earlier this month, which proved crucial for the outcome of Group H.
PSG have been hit by numerous injuries this season, but there would probably be space for Pogba in a side who flit between a three-man central midfield or two No 6s. Herrera, as well as Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes, would stand as his biggest competition.
Antonio Conte’s fondness for collecting Manchester United players perhaps suggests why Inter have emerged as contenders to sign Pogba in the coming transfer window.
|Ex-United duo Alexis Sanchez (L) and Romelu Lukaku are now at Inter|
Since Conte took charge of Inter in 2019, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian have all joined the club from United.
No doubt Conte would welcome the prospect of Pogba too as the club look to end Juve’s dominance in Serie A and also claw back rivals Milan, who have made a flying start to the current domestic campaign.
But whether Inter can afford Pogba is a different matter entirely. Sanchez accepted a pay cut to join the club permanently in the summer, while the £74m spent on Lukaku in 2019 was a club record – a total they would surely have to surpass in order to sign United’s latest “wantaway” player.
The long odds perhaps reflect the state Barcelona are currently in. Struggling in La Liga and awaiting a new president, the Catalan club are in the midst of an identity crisis which started long before the 8-2 humiliation to Bayern Munich and has continued into Ronald Koeman’s potentially brief stint as head coach.
Lionel Messi’s future is yet to be resolved either with the forward’s contract expiring in 2021, and while the six-time Ballon d’Or winner can start negotiating with other clubs in January, his potential departure could detract other players – including Pogba – from wanting to sign for a team so clearly in trouble.
The outlook at Barca could become a little clearer once a new president is elected on 24 January, but there will plenty for current frontrunner Victor Font – or potentially Joan Laporta – to resolve before they can entertain the idea of welcoming a big name through the doors.
Odds at time of writing on 9 December