Paul Pogba has never been more valuable to Manchester United.
A curious statement, ostensibly, for a midfielder whose return cost a then world-record £89 million in August 2016. Plus, with Real Madrid and Juventus hovering was priced close to £180m – reported the Daily Mail – last summer.
This exorbitant figure will not have been helped by the fact his eighth and, thus far, last appearance of an injury ravaged 2019/20 was recorded in December 26’s 4-1 routing of Newcastle United. Never mind the stasis world football finds itself in because of lockdowns imposed to curb coronavirus’ ravaging spread, leading Transfermarkt.com to slash his valuation by a fifth to €80m.
Yet it is this straitened reality, bedevilled by uncertainty as the professional game scrambles for a viable way forward, which has bolstered the 27-year-old’s worth.
“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer,” United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward stated in April’s fans’ forum via conference call.
“As ever our priority is the success of team. But we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.
“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”
Athletes of Pogba’s standing used to be strictly bound to their value in regards to a transfer fee.
In this narrow measurement, the World Cup 2018 winner is, unquestionably, a depreciating asset. It would be madness for a club of United’s enormous riches to cash-in now, while searching for liquidity.
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#Repost @instagram ・・・ Professional footballer Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) is known for his ⚽ skills, but he recently discovered another talent... cooking. While at home with his family in France, he’s surprising his mom by making her one of his favorite childhood desserts. 🥮️ “I really hope my mom will love it,” says Paul. “But I hope she doesn’t eat everything because I love it too.” 😂 #TakeABreak with Paul (and his adorable son) as he dances and dribbles his way around the kitchen. 💯
The Red Devils are also exposed by Pogba’s contractual situation, even if valuations rebound throughout 2020/21 in line with International Monetary Fund predictions about the wider economy. A, as yet not publicly utilised, unilateral one-year extension option only covers them until June 2022, ensuring suitors can hope for a cut-price move in 12 months’ time no matter what occurs.
But with the market predicted to crash in value in the short term, his immediate worth to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expands.
It is oft-neglected among the noise which surrounds Pogba that he is a proven elite footballer. The Frenchman was a joy to behold, in one glorious example, when he ran World Cup 2018’s final against Luka Modric’s Croatia.
If the 2019/20 Premier League is voided and United lose income of £116.4, according to Daily Mail estimates, this would add weight to Woodward’s prediction of a diminished war chest.
Why not, belatedly, team Pogba up with rejuvenating January signing Bruno Fernandes, rather than pursue Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish? Both men excel from the left of midfield, but only the former mentioned would not subtract from the transfer kitty.
This would leave the 20-time English champions free to funnel all reduced resources into their pursuit of Jadon Sancho. The England and Borussia Dortmund right winger is an incomparable talent to anything currently within their ranks.
In this context, Grealish is, strictly, an impressive adornment.
An adept utilisation of Pogba would, also, be in the part-exchange market. A preponderance of them are expected.
“This summer there will be very little money in the transfer market,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu suggested to Cadena SER. “Clubs will have to do a lot of player exchanges to get deals done.”
United, with Pogba under contract until June 2022, would hold a substantial possession in a bear market.
Calciomercato reported this week that they demanded either one of highly rated young centre-backs Matthijs de Ligt or Merih Demiral be involved in any Juve move for Pogba, while a lukewarm reaction greets ageing options such as Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey or Bosnia and Herzegovina talisman Miralem Pjanic.
This forceful approach could be how United extract the maximum value from their resident superstar in a depressed economy.
The summer transfer market, whenever that opens, is unlikely to resemble what fans have grown accustomed to. Pogba will be a powerful, and multi-faceted, player in this irregular arena.