LONDON (Reuters) - While rival clubs might question the wisdom of paying a world record transfer fee in the region of 100 million pounds for Paul Pogba, such a deal makes perfect sense to Manchester United who are awash with money and ambition.
United posted record third-quarter revenues of 123.4 million pounds on the back of five new global sponsorship deals and are set to bring in a total of 500 million this year, proving that no matter what happens on the pitch, off it new manager Jose Mourinho’s star-studded team play in a league of their own.
United have long accepted that a club of their status must pay a premium to attract the best players, a task made all the more difficult this year by their failure to qualify for the Europe’s lucrative Champions League competition.
With their demanding Portuguese manager in place, United have been under huge pressure to make a statement of intent ahead of an expected Premier League title challenge.
Put like that, signing Pogba from Juventus for about 100 million pounds, having lost the France midfielder to the Italian giants for next to nothing four years ago, would not be the “complete madness” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has suggested.
Should Pogba kick-start a new era of domination at Old Trafford, once he has completed the formalities of passing a medical and signing for the club, it may even prove sensible financial speculation to accumulate even greater profits.
As former United player Diego Forlan has said: “Pogba could well go on to become the best midfielder of his generation. Is he worth the figures being mentioned, though? The answer: he’s worth whatever any club is willing to pay for him.”
That is not to say that such a price tag won’t weigh heavily on a player who, on the evidence of his performances at Euro 2016, is not even the best in France - surely Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann deserves that accolade - let alone the world.
But the 23-year-old Pogba has the potential to grow into that role. His muscular, loping, running style often draws comparisons with his compatriot Patrick Vieira, although United old boy Roy Keane may prove to be a more telling yardstick.
Like the Irishman, Pogba is a tenacious box-to-box player who would be able to surge forward from the base of United’s midfield, probably carrying a more potent goal threat.
Keane was famous for winning his midfield battles and United captain Wayne Rooney offered an intriguing insight into what the Premier League could expect from Pogba when asked for his particular memories of the player’s last spell at the club.
”The bruises,“ Rooney told the Daily Mail. ”He was one of those players who, when you trained against him, somehow he would just hurt you. A knee in your side, bump into you. I don’t think he meant to do it, but it just happened.
“I hope he is going to want to return to United and prove he’s a top-class player. If he is excited to play for us, we’ll be excited to have him back. I‘m sure he’ll feel there is unfinished business.”
Most immediately Pogba would be asked about former manager Alex Ferguson’s charge that his decision to leave the club in 2012 was “disrespectful” after he declined to sign a contract extension because of concerns over a lack of first-team chances.
Significantly, Ferguson is reported to have endorsed his impending return under Mourinho who, with former Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic also on board, has returned United to the era of galactico signings to challenge the Spanish giants.
Without a competitive ball having yet been kicked, United’s audacious swoop for Pogba puts them at the forefront of England’s title race. No wonder their rivals don’t like it.
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Neville Dalton and Ken Ferris