I’ve seen a lot of discussions and opinions and press articles about Manchester United’s signing of Paul Pogba, so I thought it was about time I added my own spin on whether it was a worthwhile bit of business etc.
The thing here is that nobody is ever going to agree about everything. It’s never happened before, and it never will. Everybody will have their own take on things, because everybody is influenced by different factors. That’s what makes life interesting, I suppose.
What is it that makes a player worth that kind of money, though? I’ve heard before that players have cost “too much money” but Ronaldo, Bale, Zidane, Figo etc. all went on to prove their worth, just as I am sure Higuain and Pogba will. Not many people talk about the successes, though, because people are generally rather obsessed by failure.
In my opinion, what makes a player worth signing for any amount of money is the following factors;
- How much the club can afford to pay without placing itself in jeopardy
- How much the club needs the player in question
- How well the player is likely to adapt to his surroundings
Now, in United’s case, Pogba ticks all of the boxes. The money United have paid is a drop in the ocean for one of the most profitable football clubs in the world. The new sponsorship deals can cover the costs of signing Pogba, just to put things into perspective. United need a player like Pogba to increase their strength and mobility in the middle of the pitch, both from an attacking and defensive perspective, so he’s worth the money. Additionally, him adapting to conditions in Manchester should be minimal, given that he was raised at the club. Therefore, logically speaking, United signing Pogba for roughly 90 million is a good bit of business.
The other argument people have put forward is to question his actual ability level. I find it hard to defend Pogba’s signing to anyone that doesn’t understand football, because how do you sell the idea of someone being a midfield enforcer to anybody else? No, Pogba isn’t going to score 20+ goals a season. No, he won’t dribble teams ala Ronaldo, and upset opposing teams’ defences. He’s a box-to-box midfielder, and I expect him to do more sitting than charging forward. What he brings to United is what they need, in strength, power, consistency etc. Unlike most central midfielders, he can fuse a good level of technique with the power and grit to be a holding midfielder. Not many midfielders exist that can do both roles – but he can. Therefore, I find it very hard to explain to people why Pogba is a great signing, because the above reasoning isn’t going to convince people that don’t want to believe the truth. However, he’s great at what he does in midfield, which is basically to be something of an unsung hero, ironically enough. His role is not a glamorous one; it’s a gritty one with plenty of pressure, but it’s one he can handle, and embellish. To me, that makes Pogba worth the money.
Incidentally, the best comment from a pundit that I have ever heard was John Hartson’s assessment of Gonzalo Higuain in the pre-season friendly between West Ham United and Juventus in 2016. Following on from Wales’ heroic UEFA European Championship campaign, the former Wales international striker said of Gonzalo Higuain; “Well, he’s no Gareth Bale, is he?” having watched him for ten minutes or so. I was laughing for quite some time at that one. No, John, he’s not a world-class winger, much in the same way that Gareth Bale is not a world-class striker. They’re very different players with different roles at their respective clubs, and comparing them is utterly pointless.
P.S. Let’s hope Hartson never reads this blog, because he’ll probably crush me into pulp!!