Paul Pogba is set to return to Manchester United this summer and he could be the key to their transfer plans. After missing out on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, United are in need of a new marquee signing and Pogba will likely be the man they turn to.
Paul Pogba is the key to Manchester United’s transfer plans after Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane deals.
Manchester United paid £89.3 million to Juventus for Paul Pogba in 2016 in order to transform them into Premier League contenders, but five years later, unloading the France midfielder is now the key to their championship hopes.
Allowing Pogba to go before his contract ends in June 2023 might be the difference between United making one or two priority signings — Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane — and having the funds to pursue additional targets like Kieran Trippier, Eduardo Camavinga, and Jules Kounde.
According to ESPN, United’s owners, the Glazer family, have handed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a £100 million transfer budget for the summer window, which will be supplemented by any money generated through the exits of players considered unfit for the club.
There are a handful of players who would gladly leave United if the appropriate deal comes along. Jesse Lingard, Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles, Phil Jones, Andreas Pereira, Daniel James, and even Anthony Martial could all depart United this summer if they get an acceptable offer. Following the free signing of Tom Heaton from Aston Villa, United now have four senior goalkeepers on their books, therefore Dean Henderson or David de Gea may potentially go, either on loan or permanently.
Pogba, on the other hand, is expected to be a game-changer for United due to the high transfer price the 28-year-old currently demands.
United has already spent £72.9 million of its £100 million budget on acquiring England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. The club is still negotiating a fee with Real Madrid to sign Varane, with the Spanish club demanding an unrealistic £60 million for the centre-back who is entering the final year of his contract, but with Real needing to raise money for their own rebuilding program, a deal in the region of £40 million is likely to happen at some point.
If United can agree on a price of about £40 million for the France defender, their summer expenditure would exceed £110 million, forcing them to find a method to raise additional funds in order to make further acquisitions.
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Lingard is expected to fetch in the most money after his excellent loan stint at West Ham last season. If United can raise £20 million from Lingard’s departure, they can realistically expect to raise £50 million from the departures of Williams, Dalot, Telles, Jones, Pereira, and James. In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, Martial might fetch in about £25 million as well, but there is no line of teams eager to pay that sort of money on the erratic French striker.
But, while football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher have helped focus United’s recruitment efforts this summer, with deals already in place for Sancho and Heaton, the Glazers and outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward still have the final say on who comes in and who goes out.
Murtough and Fletcher have relieved Woodward of most of the hard work by concentrating on the day-to-day difficulties of dealing with players, but the Glazers’ transfer policy remains in place, and Woodward remains the gatekeeper between the recruiting team and the owners.
The word from the top is clear: in order to spend more on new recruits beyond Heaton, Sancho, and Varane, money must be generated through reducing the roster. That’s why Pogba’s future is so important to Solskjaer’s plans to assemble a title-winning team this summer.
Mark Ogden of ESPN FC outlines what a good season for Jadon Sancho would entail after his big-money transfer to Manchester United.
According to ESPN, the United management has little faith in Pogba signing a new deal before his current one expires in less than a year. The public message is that negotiations about a new contract are continuing, but the truth is that United will let him leave if Paris Saint-Germain succeeds in signing him.
Pogba’s departure would undoubtedly see United lose one of the world’s best midfielders, but he has struggled to live up to that billing since joining from Juventus in August 2016 for a then-world-record £89.3 million fee.
So, on top of the £50 million generated by previous departing moves, his departure may provide Solskjaer another £90 million to £100 million to spend this summer, perhaps allowing Trippier, Camavinga, and Kounde to join.
If Pogba left, United’s salary bill would be reduced by £300,000 per week, or £15.6 million per year, and those savings might cover the majority of the salaries of two or three new recruits.
Many other teams are in the same boat, looking to offload players before bringing in new ones. Manchester City is evaluating which players may be able to assist in the acquisition of top targets Harry Kane and Jack Grealish, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are grappling with difficult financial choices that typically plague smaller teams.
However, United’s biggest problem is finding teams willing to absorb its periphery players and Pogba. PSG are the only club that have shown an interest in Pogba, but he may yet be utilised in a swap deal for Varane if Real keep United waiting.
It’s possible that the remainder of the players Solskjaer is willing to let go will have to wait until the closing days of the transfer market next month for transactions to be completed. Whether United can wait that long is another question, but sanctioning Pogba’s departure in the coming weeks may be the decision that puts Solskjaer’s prospects of bringing the championship, or any trophy, to Old Trafford next season in jeopardy.
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