When Paul Pogba returned to Man Utd after a few years away at Juventus, the Red Devils and supporters welcomed the return of the Frenchman, with #Pogback trending on Twitter following the announcement of the deal. Pogba had been seen as “the one that got away” from Sir Alex Ferguson, having gone on to become one of the world’s finest players during his spell in Serie A. The deal would set United back a then-world record £89m, and alongside fellow new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic it appeared that the club could be set to enjoy their most successful season since the legendary Scot retired in 2013.
Pogba, unfortunately, has failed to fully realise his potential wearing the red shirt of United once again. The flashes of brilliance and runs of great form have been interspersed with periods of him playing distinctly average, and failing to exert his influence as much as he would have hoped. This has led to sports-gambling.com amongst others linking him with an Old Trafford exit.
He has certainly not been the worst signing in recent seasons in Manchester, but for the money they spent one would have expected him to be bossing the midfield as some sort of cross between Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
His form at international level has been considerably better, with him taking part in France’s first World Cup win since 1998 this summer. When Les Bleus last lifted the trophy Pogba was only five years old, and so this achievement will almost certainly stand as a pinnacle of his career – and it came, of course, during his second spell at Man Utd. Recently, however, he has been showing considerable signs of unhappiness at the club, criticising his team-mates following their loss to Brighton a few weeks ago. When asked recently about his future, he also refused to rule out a move away from Manchester, tweeting after France’s 0-0 draw with Germany “‘My future is currently in Manchester. I still have a contract, I am playing there at the moment, but who knows what will happen in the next few months.”
The last part of that tweet reads ominously for any United fans who want him to stay, though a recent poll suggested that some 60% would be delighted to see him move away in any case. With Barcelona reportedly interested in bringing him in, the club’s hierarchy have suspended talks regarding a new contract. Barcelona also have precedence in getting big deals done in January, with Philippe Coutinho moving to the Nou Camp from Liverpool in January 2018. The signs would all seem to point towards the Frenchman moving to La Liga in the new year, though whether United boss Jose Mourinho would be interested in discussing terms with Ernesto Valverde remains to be seen.
The fact of the matter is, however, that if Pogba is unhappy at United he will not be able to produce his best form at the club. Not producing his best form is dangerous as it could end any big interest in his services, and so it may prove to be best for all parties concerned if they get the deal done as quickly as possible once the winter transfer window opens in January. Failure to do so will not end well for the player or the club.