By Cain Smith.
When Paul Pogba rejoined Manchester United in 2016 along with Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it seemed like the Reds were heading back to the top, but almost four years later, United are far from those heights — 37 points to be exact.
Pogba was promised a re-build at United yet we are still in the rebuilding phase four years later. This has led to transfer rumours about the World Cup winner, and it seems that it is likely that he could leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.
Pogba’s Time At United
Returning to United as the world’s most expensive player at £90m, it was clear the midfielder would be criticised no matter how well he played.
Although he only managed to pick up 5 goals and 4 assists in the Premier League in 2016/17, it was actually a solid campaign from the Frenchman.
He averaged 2 key passes per 90 minutes and was let down by Ibrahimovic who missed a staggering 18 big chances in the league that year. Pogba also hit the woodwork six times in the league.
The next two seasons, his numbers improved — but his relationship with manager Jose Mourinho looked unsteady as the two seemed to fall out in a training session in September 2018.
Mourinho benched Pogba in his last game for United in a 3-1 loss to rivals Liverpool.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer subsequently took on the role of caretaker manager, and this was one of the best periods for Pogba in his United career. He scored eight goals and added five assists in the first 10 Premier League appearances under the Norwegian.
The 2019/20 season has been one which has been blighted by injury for Pogba, and as a result he has only started five games in the campaign so far.
A Potential Transfer Away
While he has been out injured, there has been a lot of speculation about him leaving the Red Devils. His agent, Mino Raiola, stirred the pot back in February, saying:
“Italy is like home for Paul. He’d like to come back to Juventus but we’ll see what happens after the Euros.”
It would be understandable if Pogba wanted to leave. He is 26 now and will want to win titles and Champions Leagues. This is not looking very likely at United.
Although there are no concrete links to specific clubs at this moment in time, it still feels like Pogba could leave this summer.
How United Should Replace Pogba
Selling a top player can end up being beneficial for a club as long as the club re-invest well. Liverpool have become one of the best sides in world football thanks to improvement in their back line once big signings Virgil van Dijk and Alisson came in. This was only able to happen thanks to the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £130m.
United clearly need a right-winger, and if they can bring in Jadon Sancho it would be a great replacement for Pogba in terms of adding another world-class player to the side.
Positionally, the Reds would need at least two midfielders to come in this summer. Jack Grealish seems to be a player the club are interested in, and he could operate in the midfield but also drift out left as Pogba often has from this position.
United also need a top left-back as, ultimately, Brandon Williams isn’t ready yet and Luke Shaw isn’t reliable enough.
If the Frenchman stays put, a midfield including himself and Bruno Fernandes could be very dangerous for the Reds, but if United can replace Pogba by bringing in three or four strong signings in other positions, it could end up being a good move for United.