Paul Pogba, the £100m man. Or £110m, or £115m man, depending on which report you believe. Regardless, the money that Manchester United are offering Juventus will almost certainly break the world transfer record, with the fact that the Red Devils are signing a player that left Old Trafford under acrimonious circumstances in 2012 provoking much derision and criticism.
But in the context of what United require, both as a team and a business after three years of underachievement since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, it makes complete sense.
The price itself, surely driven up by Juventus’ desire to get the most out of their prized asset might seem ridiculous and extortionate to some, and given that Pogba isn’t an attacking goal machine in the same mould as the last two holders of the world transfer record (Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale), but he had presence, power, skill and desire; four things United have lacked in the centre of the pitch for some time.
Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman has been chasing a signing on this scale since he assumed his duties, and as much as he has been derided, part of the reason that United can afford to spend over £100m without flinching is his ability to make the club money through gigantic sponsorship deals with companies all around the globe. The club has confirmed themselves that their projected turnover for 2016 is £510m, meaning they could still have more than £350m left in their coffers should the deal go through.
The statement this signing makes is huge, which his what United want. Their branding is based around projecting themselves as the biggest club in the world, and the idea of United pricing Real Madrid isn’t something fans of either club are used to. As such, it’s remarkable to see United acting like the club they’ve so often presented themselves as being.
In terms of Pogba himself, who has spent his summer holidays teasing fans on social media, he will likely relish the pressure. This is a second chance to announce himself and prove himself in the biggest league in the world, an opportunity to show United how wrong they were to let him go four years ago and make an even bigger name for himself. As such, it’s a deal that makes sense on a number of levels; Jose Mourinho gets the player he wanted, Woodward gets his star signing and makes United look like a big club again and the fans get a big name player. Quite simply, everyone wins.