Paul Pogba: The Transfer of the Century

Paul Pogba July 2016

As a disappointing tour of China concludes for Manchester United, an exciting summer of transfer business creeps ever closer to a climax as all eyes remain glued to Paul Pogba, Mino Raiola, Jose Mourinho, Ed Woodward and Andrea Agnelli whom all preside over the biggest (certainly financially) transfer dealing of all time.

In 1893, just a mere few years ago, Willie Groves of West Bromwich Albion made waves and drew fire from many as he moved to local rivals Aston Villa for the first ever record transfer in football, for £100. The fee raised eyebrows. Transfer fees tend to. I am not at all sure why.

As I type, the mostly accurate Italian sports media are leaking the £79m move of Gonzalo Higuian from Napoli to the Old Lady Juventus. This fee, in proportion is steeper than the move of Paul Pogba to Manchester United. It is reported that the Higuian move is 29.9% of Juve’s annual income and for Manchester United to pay the same percentage would mean that the Pogba fee would clear £150m.

This has its own implications. For one, it puts into perspective the financial waterfall United have at their disposal. It is the worst kept secret in football. As such, you can hardly blame clubs trying to drain that extra £5m out of every marquee signing and, furthermore, you can hardly blame United for paying it. Put simply, your additions to your squad would be in jeopardy if you started playing hardball over amounts everybody knows you have spare.

Mino Raiola is receiving a lot of attention for his role in this. I should imagine he is loving this. If Raiola, from his past dealings and high-profile clientele, wants anything, it is a reputation for being able to overpower clubs. Raiola appears to be in the same boat as Juventus in seemingly wanting to grind out those extra figures in his paycheque.

We’re talking about a man whom makes moves happen; he’s moved Zlatan Ibrahimovic from here to there via everywhere and earned a vast sum in doing just that; it’s his livelihood and all said and done, knows how to conclude this deal. Provided United don’t lose interest and Pogba doesn’t hesitate the deal will conclude by Raiola.

What we are probably witnessing is some sort of contractual complications that come with joining Manchester United. We saw it with Jose Mourinho’s image rights at Chelsea. We saw it with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s long term saga and with how Jose Mourinho announced Henrikh Mkhitaryan (That’s right, I checked) a whole twenty-four hours before Manchester United were in a position to. I largely believe the preliminary agreements of transfer fee, personal terms, agency fees and squad number are all accounted for.

The nonsense I see daily on Twitter about how United are waiting on the Stock Exchange or for Adidas amuses me. Manchester United could announce Paul Pogba at three in the morning on a Wednesday and the world would light up for it. Why? Because United is a worldwide franchise and not dependent on whether the suits are in the offices of Wall Street. Manchester United announce deals when they want; not when Adidas tell them to.

My favorite comment on the situation comes from every-bodies favorite Swede, Zlatan Ibrahimovic whom scoffed ‘All I am hearing about is the fee for Pogba. My shirt sales alone will pay for Pogba.’

I think the world knows this deal is on; but why have Paul Pogba when you could have one million Willie Groves?