Which Team Will End Paul Pogba’s MUFC Misery?

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Even though it feels like the most recent season in the English Premier League has only just ended, and Manchester City were crowned champions on a dramatic final day, the 2019/2020 season is already beginning to loom large on the horizon for all of the clubs involved. 
 
With international commitments over the summer having come to an end, players have returned to their clubs for pre-season training. There’s a player at Manchester United joining his teammates for pre-season preparations who probably expected he’d be somewhere else by now: Paul Labile Pogba. 
 
The fact that Pogba wants to leave Manchester United isn’t a secret; his agent was telling anybody who wanted to listen that Pogba was open to a move during the summer months, and agents don’t do that for their players without authorization. When asked directly about stories linking him with a transfer away from the Old Trafford club, Pogba spoke in less than subtle terms about being "open to a new challenge," which most people took as his admission that he'd rather be just about anywhere else. Real Madrid was understood to be the destination he dreamed about most, although there were also whispers that he'd accept a move back to his previous club, Juventus. So far, his wishes aren't being granted. Neither team has made an offer, and Paul Pogba is still a Manchester United player. 
 
What Went Wrong? As recently as the 2018 World Cup, Pogba was being hailed as one of the greatest midfielders in the world. His performances during the tournament were superb, and he played a crucial role in winning the coveted trophy for his home nation of France. The fault for his inconsistent performances for United was laid at the door of the club's then-manager Jose Mourinho. Everybody knew that Mourinho and Pogba didn't get on, so the coach was accused of not knowing how to get the best out of his star player. 
 
Mourinho wasn't long for the United job. A disappointing summer of transfer activity translated into a disappointing start to the season on the field, leaving the club with no option but to fire their manager shortly before Christmas. With the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as his replacement, Pogba suddenly looked like a man reborn. The new manager made supportive statements about the midfielder in the press, and Pogba responded by rediscovering the best of his form, turning games around almost single-handed at times, and hitting his best spell of goalscoring form in years. Everybody was happy for a moment, but the moment didn't last. 
 
During the final three months of the season, Solskjaer’s honeymoon period came to a crashing halt. United couldn’t buy a win, and Pogba became anonymous on the field. On the last day of the season, United lost at home to already-relegated Cardiff City, and Pogba was booed by his own fans. It was clear that the relationship between club and player had broken down again, and this time it seemed there would be no solution. The fans didn’t want Pogba, and Pogba didn’t want to play in front of the fans. 
 
Why No Buyers? Given all of Pogba's obvious qualities, it's something of a surprise that United are - so far at least - saying that they've yet to receive any offers for his services. Solskjaer is still making supportive noises about his captain in the press, but without the conviction that he had when he was new to the job. The general belief is that were United to receive an acceptable offer for Pogba they'd gladly take it and spend the money on new players. 
 
There are several reasons why there aren't yet any suitors for Pogba, but one of them may be the player's own perceived attitude problems. His tone on social media often comes across as arrogant and aloof, and when games aren't going United's way on the field, he has a tendency to drift out of the contest to the point where some feel he stops trying. His talent is undeniable, but his form comes and goes. That makes him something of a UK slot game of a player; United keep paying money into the slot, and sometimes they collect handsome winnings. On other occasions, the slot just swallows their money, and they get nothing. From United's point of view, Pogba is a costly game to play. Most Slots UK players play with small stakes, and are happy to collect comparatively small winnings in return. United's stake in Paul Pogba is several hundred thousand dollars a month, and it seems they're no longer happy with their returns. Other clubs may not be willing to repeat United's gamble. 
 
The expected price of the player is also a sticking point. United paid almost $120m for Pogba when they signed him in 2016; a world record at the time. Pogba is still only 26 years old, and still under contract for several years. The club has no reason to sell cheaply, and so will be looking to recoup their entire outlay on him at the very least. Of the few clubs who could afford to pay such an exorbitant fee, none may consider a player who's now gained a reputation for being inconsistent and disruptive a good investment at that price. 
 
Pogba's first pick, Real Madrid, have already spent big this summer on buying Eden Hazard from Chelsea. While it's not out of the question for them to spend big money again, they have no apparent need for him within their squad. Similarly, Barcelona has made an expensive summer signing in the shape of Antoine Griezmann, and Juventus are about to complete the signing of highly-rated Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt. If none of the three clubs are willing to move for Pogba, it's unclear where the door might be open for him. One possibility might be to go back home to France by joining Paris Saint Germain, but the big-spending French club has thus far curiously shown no interest in acquiring the mercurial midfielder. Perhaps they, too, consider Pogba to be more trouble than he's worth. 
 
In an era where players frequently seem to have more power than the clubs why pay their wages or the managers who select the signs, it seems that Pogba may have learned a painful lesson; if you’re going to ask to move, make sure you have somewhere to go first. 
 

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