Speaking before France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers with Moldova and Iceland in March, Paul Pogba told the media:
“Like I’ve always said, Real Madrid is a dream for anyone.”
On 16 June 2019, Paul Pogba doubled down on his March statement, telling journalists in Asia that he was interested in leaving Manchester United. “I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.” On 5 July 2019, Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola told The Times that he was “in the process of” arranging Paul Pogba’s transfer away from Manchester United.
Manchester United have repeatedly reiterated that Paul Pogba is not for sale yet the World Cup winning Frenchman continues to be linked with Real Madrid.
For their part, Madrid have had a busy summer. On 15 June 2018, Real Madrid reached an agreement with Santos for the transfer of Rodrygo, with the young Brazilian transferring in the summer of 2019 for a rumoured fee of €45m. The Guardian newspaper reported on 14 March that Real Madrid had signed Eder Militao from Porto for €50m. On 4 June 2019, Real Madrid signed Luka Jović from Eintracht Frankfurt for an initial €65m fee. On 7 June 2019, Real Madrid agreed to pay Chelsea £90m for Eden Hazard. On 12 June 2019, Madrid signed Ferland Mendy from Lyon for £47m.
Real Madrid have spent a total sum of £274.95m this summer thus far and it would seem that their business is not done just yet.
On 5 August 2019, Sky Sports – along with other British news media outlets – reported that Manchester United had rejected a bid of £27.6m plus James Rodriguez in exchange for Paul Pogba.
On 7 August 2019, Real Madrid reportedly offered Paris Saint-Germain £110m plus Luka Modrić for Neymar, a story which was reported in The Times, the same paper which had quoted Mino Raiola in July.
But the question is: how seriously do Real Madrid actually want Paul Pogba? Zinedine Zidane has repeatedly stated in media his respect for Paul Pogba, reciprocating Pogba’s desire for a ‘new challenge’.
“If when he finishes his experience at United he wants to come here why shouldn’t he come to Real Madrid?”
But ultimately actions speak louder than words and as it stands, Real Madrid have made no earnest attempt to sign Pogba. Pogba has up to three years left on his Manchester United deal and with United under no pressure to sell, why would Madrid offer a measly £27.6m with James Rodriguez, a player whom Madrid have made no secret of their desire to offload to anyone?
Is this the offer of a serious team? Madrid have proven this summer that they are not short of money; having spent £274.95m with a potential bumper deal in the offing for Neymar yet to come, they continue to have money — provided that the deal appeals to them.
Perhaps we should read slightly deeper into the narrative. Spanish journalist Diego Torres has reported extensively on the ‘Pogba saga,’ stating that Zinedine Zidane is in fact desperate to sign Pogba but that Madrid are utterly unconvinced of the Frenchman, with Florentino Perez taking counsel from José Mourinho, a potential future coach of Madrid, who has dissuaded Perez from the deal.
It would add further weight to the reported £27.6m offer from Madrid for Pogba. Madrid would sign Pogba, provided it didn’t cost them excessively. When spending big however, Hazard and Jović were far greater priorities than the World Cup winning Frenchman.
For all of Paul Pogba’s public pronouncements, it remains to be seen whether Real Madrid are all that keen on him. Yes, they would probably like to have him in their squad but probably only provided that it didn’t really cost them anything.
Offering £27.6m (roughly Gareth Bale’s annual wage) along with a player they didn’t want anyway is the epitome of a cursory offer. Derisory too.
And yet following Manchester United’s thumping of Chelsea on Sunday Paul Pogba refused to commit himself to Manchester United for the forthcoming season telling journalists who asked, “Only time will tell, there’s always that question mark.”
Reading less like an actual transfer saga more like a Taylor Swift song of unrequited love, the Paul Pogba to Real Madrid story drags on.
Despite a positive preseason, Pogba is obviously still keen to leave Manchester United and doesn’t mind how little effort is made on behalf of Madrid to sign him. What is amazing is that Paul Pogba continues to put himself, his reputation and his relationship with the Manchester United support on the line for the sake of a team that have not really shown a great deal of commitment to signing him, despite his efforts to court the move.
One day we will likely see Pogba juggling a football in the Bernabeu upon his presentation as the latest Galactico to sign for Madrid. He will describe it as a ‘dream move’ to play for such a great team and how it is the pinnacle of his career. For those of us who have watched him over the past three years however, it might seem sad, hollow and the epitome of vanity.
Madrid and Manchester United will each one day relent, giving in to what the other club doesn’t really want, and Paul Pogba will go to Madrid. It won’t have been on the back of a stellar career at Manchester United which made him the world’s most ‘must-have’ player, but rather on the back of a carefully orchestrated campaign, being brought to fruition whether warranted or not.