When the dust settles down after agent Mino Raiola’s latest comments about Paul Pogba being finished at Manchester United, it will most likely become clear that he has shot himself in the foot.
In an interview with Tuttosport that is covered in full here, Raiola said ‘I can say that it’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United … He needs to change team … the best solution for all parties is a transfer’.
Of course, Raiola wants Pogba to leave United so he can secure him a big contract elsewhere. But what he seems to be forgetting is that it is just as important to him as it is for the Red Devils that they get a big transfer fee and that the buying club pays the Frenchman a big salary. After all, Raiola makes his money by getting a percentage of both.
The problem is, by so publicly stirring the pot and saying ‘it’s not the player’s intention to extend [his United] contract’, Raiola has handed all the power in the situation to buying clubs. Who will pay top dollar for a player who they can sign for free 12 months later?
Raiola also suggested that a return to Juventus could be on the cards, saying ‘Maybe Juventus could be Pogba’s next club… why not? … But with the Covid impact, many clubs can’t sign him. For sure, it’s time to leave Manchester United.’
? Raiola to Tuttosport: “Maybe Juventus could be Pogba's next club… why not? The relationship between Paul, Juventus and former teammates is excellent. But with the Covid impact, many clubs can’t sign him. For sure, it's time to leave Manchester United”. #MUFC #Juve
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 8, 2020
Ultimately, though, whilst Juve would dearly love to have the Frenchman back, they are unlikely to match his salary as long as Cristiano Ronaldo absorbs such a huge part of their wage budget. They would surely wait until 2022, when Ronaldo leaves – unless United’s asking price is reduced drastically and Pogba were to take a huge pay cut.
Meanwhile, the ship taking Pogba to his dream club, Real Madrid, has almost certainly sailed. President Florentino Perez has never been totally convinced about Pogba. All the impetus behind their interest has come from head coach Zinedine Zidane, who himself is facing the sack after a poor start to the season.
And with Pogba turning 28 in March and the financial impact of Covid-19 restricting their transfer business, again los Merengues are highly unlikely to pursue a move for him unless asking price and salary demands are slashed.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher does not believe that any approach will come from Spain.
‘There’s no chance in the world that Real Madrid or Barcelona will buy him,’ he said.
‘I’ll be flabbergasted … if they come in for him. I wouldn’t go anywhere near him.’
There are very few other clubs in the world who could afford Pogba. Manchester City and Chelsea both seem highly unlikely to say the least. There is also Paris St Germain, but they themselves would probably have to sell the likes of either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar before they could consider adding Pogba to their roster.
Raiola may have made the statement now to open up the possibility of a transfer in the forthcoming January window. In a sense, this is logical – still 27 and with 18 months left on his contract, Pogba’s value would have been preserved to a certain extent. But what club is going to pay top dollar for a player in this desperate situation – not to mention one with a maverick agent who behaves so badly?
The fact is that it would have been better for everyone concerned, including and perhaps especially Raiola, if he had kept his mouth shut and if Pogba had knuckled down and put in six months of world class performances at Old Trafford. In the meantime, the Covid crisis (hopefully) would have been coming to an end and clubs would be feeling stronger again. Those could have been circumstances for a healthy transfer to take place.
That, now, is almost certainly not going to happen and the only consolation for United fans is that it will not just be United that loses out as a result, it will be Raiola and Pogba as well.
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