When the most expensive footballer of all time (at the time) returned to Manchester United, he carried a hefty weight upon his shoulders. Unfortunately, I feel that Paul Pogba has only ever shown glimpses of his true ability and potential.
However, the £80 million that United forked out for the Frenchman seems like mere pennies when compared to the fee that was paid by PSG for Neymar, thus slightly lowering the pressure on Pogba.
Even still, in the four years that Pogba has been at United in his second stint with the club, he has struggled at times to impress and properly win over the United fans. Attitude problems have plagued this stage of his career which quickly put him out of favour with the manager at the time, Jose Mourinho. However, after the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he improved dramatically for the first dozen or so matches, but soon returned to how he was under Mourinho.
The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January 2020 has led to many predicting Pogba to leave in the following summer, but should he stay in Manchester, win the fans over properly and become a legend, or seek a move elsewhere?
Why should Pogba stay?
The introduction of the lively playmaker, Bruno Fernandes, to an otherwise flat midfield at Old Trafford could set Pogba up with a similar position he found himself in whilst playing for Juventus. With the resurgence of Fred alongside Fernandes, Pogba could find himself given a freer and more roaming role in midfield, much more akin to the role he had at Juventus when lining up alongside Andrea Pirlo and Artuto Vidal. With Fred being the more defensive of the trio, Fernandes and Pogba could be able to complement each other’s vision, movement and passing ability.
Seeing how much better United have become since the arrival of the Portuguese midfielder, Pogba may realise that this team now has much better potential than it did at this stage last year and that this team may actually have the ability to win trophies again.
Pogba’s ability is unquestionable when he performs, but because of how rare those occasions are, he hasn’t really ever gained favour with the Manchester United faithful. However, if he does step up to become a leading figure in a new United midfield, he could be a key member of the team.
Why should Pogba leave?
If Pogba were to leave, the first thing for United to consider would be the fee. There is no doubt that he isn’t as good as he was when he departed Turin, but would they be prepared to make a loss on Pogba, or would they hold out for at least £90 million?
The constant talk of his exit since he returned to Old Trafford has clearly been a distraction, as well as the mysterious injury that’s kept him out for the last few months. It’s clear that he’s causing many headaches for Solskjaer.
The feeling I have around Pogba is that he’ll only play well if he gets what he wants. Therefore, I think that the team would have to be built around the Frenchman, bringing in players who will play to his strengths and setting up a formation and tactics that all benefit his style of play, which could take millions of pounds, and months of tactical adaptation.
Another thing about Pogba is that he is a very publicity-based footballer, very akin to Jesse Lingard with his social media activity, the incessant need to perform a peculiar ‘dance’ or ‘dab’ after each goal, marketing appeal and the ever-changing haircut have all played their part as being a reason why he’s never really settled again.
With the way that Solskjaer has set up the midfield since the arrival of Fernandes, it could be that he’s already planning for Pogba’s exit. Scott McTominay has developed very quickly and effectively this season, and with Fred also beginning to play well, is there really a spot in the team for a petulant dabber?
However, with the current crisis going on, there may be a problem with money. With clubs losing cash hand over fist, there may not be many who will be prepared to fork out the huge fee that United will surely demand, as well as the signing bonus, wage and agent bonus that the infamous Mino Raiola will somehow negotiate out of any interested party.
My overall belief is that Pogba will be far better off if he moves away from Manchester. Solskjaer needs to take a Sir Alex Ferguson-like stance on this situation and try to move him out, sending a message to the rest of the world that no player is bigger than Manchester United.
Considering that United have been so much better in his absence, there’s really no point for them in keeping him lingering around. So, if a reasonable offer comes in for him, I’d jump to accept it and shift him away as soon as possible.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk.