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Football Transfer News

Arsene Wenger: Pogba Fee Is Absolutely Crazy But Not For Manchester United

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The Arsenal boss has hammered the potential cost of bringing the Frenchman back to Old Trafford, but the club can more than afford the world-record outlay.

There are few observers who believe that Paul Pogba will not prove a worthwhile signing for Manchester United as the Juventus midfielder edges ever nearer an Old Trafford return. In truth, it is only the phenomenal size of the transfer fee which anybody appears to have an issue with.

The France international is set to complete a switch back to his former club which will cost United a total of £112 million in transfer fees alone, £20m of which will be paid to Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola. They are sums which have left many people shaking their heads and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is the latest to pipe up.

“It is completely crazy if you cannot afford to pay it. If you can afford to pay it you can justify it,” Wenger said. “It is completely crazy if you compare it to normal life, that is for sure. But we live in a world where every activity that is worldwide makes a lot of money.

“Football has become a worldwide competition and that is why clubs can afford to do it. Does it make sense in the way the player can give you that investment back? Nobody ever could calculate.

“Since I have been in this sport I always thought the record cannot go higher and I was always wrong. Maybe in a few years it will be 200, 300 [million], who knows.”

When United sat down with Juventus to thrash out a figure some weeks ago, the Bianconeri went big in their estimation of their four-time Serie A winner. And, far from balk at the figure, United simply looked to soften it as they knew that Pogba is just what they need. Whatever people may suggest after his travails with France at Euro 2016, United know just as well as Juve what the midfielder can do on a consistent basis.

From our privileged position in the technology-heavy modern world we have seen Pogba excel on the world stage time and again since arriving at Juve in 2012, quickly forcing his way into a previously untouchable midfield on the road to the forefront of the planet’s footballing consciousness.

He has played a huge part in four successive Serie A titles, helped them become a consistently dominant force domestically and a massive name in Europe once more. Pogba has become one of the most talked-about names in the game today and has been tipped for a world-record transfer fee.

None of this has happened by accident. With power, poise, a deft touch, an eye for goal and boundless energy, he has earned his place among the list of current stars at the top end of the sport.

While Sir Alex Ferguson decided that Pogba and Raiola were too divisive a partnership to work with during his reign at Old Trafford, the Frenchman’s quality was never truly questioned. When Fergie selected right-back Rafael in midfield over Pogba against Blackburn Rovers in December 2011, it was more a sign he was unhappy with the player’s baggage than unimpressed with his potential.

As a youngster coming through the ranks with United and France his greatest flaw was his tendency to switch off when things got a little too easy for him, but more recently it has been unrealistic expectations that have drawn out critics.

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“Too much responsibility has been placed on his shoulders, so much that a normal 22-year-old would struggle to cope,” Massimiliano Allegri said as Juventus struggled at the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign following a summer exodus of star names.

“Nobody is asking Pogba to score three goals per game or to win games single-handedly. We just ask Paul to play as he knows how to, a bit more carefree, and make the mistakes a normal 22-year-old makes. That’s it. It is easy to understand.”

It appeared to be much the same kind of situation at Euro 2016. With United looking to re-employ Pogba and Real Madrid also being credited with serious interest, the world was watching him more closely than ever before. With a price tag of €120 million hanging around his neck, it was always likely to be a tournament at which French failure would not reflect well on the midfielder.

His stuttering run with France rightly drew question marks, but comments from the likes of Gary Lineker (“doesn’t score many, doesn’t create much and not great defensively”) and Harry Redknapp (“if you asked me, ‘Dele Alli or Pogba, who do you want?’ I’m taking Dele Alli in the long term”) say more about some people’s ignorance than they do about a youngster playing out of position in the pressure-cooker environment of a home championship.

Wenger is the latest to decry the deal, picking at the costs involved, but the French manager has made it his business to complain about transfer fees over the past decade as his side have drifted further and further away from the top of the sport thanks largely to his beligerence in the market. Just because Wenger cringes at the sight of a few zeroes on a piece of paper, it doesn’t mean United should.

As a smooth-running commercial operation, Manchester United is almost untouchable. Despite results on the pitch over the last few years they continue to make phenomenal amounts of money away from the field, meaning deals such as the one to bring Pogba back to the Premier League are more than within their budget, And that is why the total £216m cost of the operation including Pogba’s salary is entirely justifiable.

Wenger is right that the fee is crazy when compared to regular life, but since when has that not been the case? Was he thinking about how much a doctor or a joiner or a shop clerk was worth when he signed Jose Antonio Reyes for £17m? Or Mesut Ozil for £42m? The amount of money in football continues to rise because regular people continue to pour in their hard-earned cash. It is then up to the clubs themselves how they spend it.

At the age of 23, Pogba is one of the biggest talents in the modern game and will only get better. If anything, a move away from Juventus will only increase his chances of becoming one of the 21st century’s greats, with new challenges bringing further chances to demonstrate his ability.

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