Paul Pogba gets what he wants at Manchester United – Samuel Luckhurst


Perhaps the most disappointed at Manchester United passing over Gareth Bale are Adidas. Their client will sport the swoosh in Tottenham rather than the three stripes he has worn for seven years with the club and the country and Adidas has been denied a pair of stars. The prospect of Bale and Paul Pogba posing in Adidas outfits would undoubtedly have made a banner outside the East booth, but those iconic days of co-funding transfers from sportswear sponsors are long gone. Nike was set to help bring Cristiano Ronaldo home in 2013 until Sir Alex Ferguson came upstairs.

Pogba must privately approve that United are giving Bale a gap. Bale earns £ 600,000 per week in Madrid and £ 350,000 after tax, which is around £ 50,000 less than Alexis Sanchez’s weekly net income at United. Pogba planted a kiss on Sanchez’s crown during this thrilling derby comeback in April 2018, but the Chilean’s arrival sparked resentment among dressing room figures. Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola was stung enough to gift his Manchester City client the same month Sanchez tickled the Ivories.

Bale is six months older than Sanchez and a similar salary. Pogba has not received an improved contract since joining United and going to win the World Cup, a feat which United celebrated via a tweet hosted by Adidas.

Bale has picked up a few Champions League winner’s medals and won the biggest final goal of the European Cup, but he’s been on a steady downward curve since Wales’ run to the Championship semi-finals Europe. The shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo was still looming after his departure from Madrid in 2018 and Bale never came out.

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Jadon Sancho is quite expensive for United, let alone Bale, and the Borussia Dortmund winger’s salary demands have been described as a ‘real problem’. United have made progress in negotiations over Sancho’s personal terms but are still haunted by the Sanchez deal and the £ 10million fee his representative Fernando Felicevich pocketed.

Raiola raised £ 41million on Pogba’s world record move and United cited claims for agent fees behind collapsing deals for Paulo Dybala and Erling Haaland. There is a silent acceptance that they have set a precedent for agents’ greed and are determined not to repeat the mistakes amid ongoing discussions with Sancho’s advisor Emeka Obasi.

United are also reluctant to put Pogba’s seven-year-old junior Sancho on more than their midfielder’s salary of £ 290,000 a week. United want to tie Pogba to a new deal now that he’s entered the last year of his current terms (United have the option of an extra year) and their indulgence must therefore continue.

They are too far away with Pogba to take a principled position now. They bowed to a talent who reveled in the dismissal of one manager and undermined the other. It would arguably be hollow for Pogba – knowingly offered to City and delighted with the possibility of playing for his childhood idol at Madrid – to commit when he tried to leave United.

Last year, Pogba thought “this might be a good time to take on a new challenge elsewhere,” a quote United attempted to airbrush from history and did not mention on their podcast with Pogba. Raiola was ‘sorry’ he didn’t arrange a move to Madrid and Pogba was accidentally pictured with Zinedine Zidane in Dubai last season.

United gave Pogba permission to travel to Dubai and Miami to get vitamin E while injured and he was filmed dancing at his brother’s wedding in Paris. They have to keep him nice and recruiting another aging and expensive striker would have risked damaging relationships.

Pogba went to the gym and returned to the pitch this week

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was so protective of Pogba that at times he looked more like his PR manager than his football manager. United recruited around Pogba, acquiring a playmaker from Bruno Fernandes and holding the midfielder to Donny van de Beek. A cynic might wonder if United have overcompensated by signing midfielder chiefs in case Pogba raises the sticks for Madrid next year.

The form after Pogba’s restart was impressive and the football United played with him in the squad was among their best in the post-Ferguson era. The pandemic ended a summer transfer and, free from any distractions about his future, Pogba’s influence approached the level of his Solskjaer-goalkeeper rebound period, the zenith of his club form.

United have a bloated 33-man squad and their unwanted center-back troika is costing them over £ 300,000 a week in wages and Old Trafford is still closed to supporters. They line the pockets of the glaziers but also have to keep the chests full enough to be profitable and announcing a Pogba expansion is the best possible way out if the transfer window closes on a pessimistic note.

They’re not as sharp as when Ed Woodward bragged on MUTV about their “financial situation allows us to do things in the transfer market that most other clubs can’t.” Adidas will be disappointed.


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