Paul Pogba faces one of the most important decisions of his football career this summer. The French World Cup winner must decide whether to commit his future to Manchester United or push to leave Old Trafford for the second time.
Here, we make a case for the enigmatic midfielder to stay exactly where he is for the foreseeable future. We also examine why the 28-year-old may be wise to once again look to play his football elsewhere.
Paul Pogba: Should He Stay or Should He Go?
Why Loyalty to Manchester United Could Finally be Rewarded
If Pogba were to leave Old Trafford this summer, he may find that the grass is not always greener on the other side. On the face of it, there are not too many destinations that would represent an upgrade on this talented footballer’s current surroundings.
La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are in economic disarray, and neither were seriously competitive in the Champions League last season despite the latter reaching the semi-final. Granted, neither too were Manchester United, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad are more financially capable of moving to fix that in a Covid-impacted climate, as is proven by the recent acquisition of Jadon Sancho.
A return to Italy is not currently on the cards for Pogba either. The likes of Serie A champions Inter Milan are looking to sell assets rather than buy them this summer, while Pogba’s former club Juventus cannot act on their desire to re-sign the Frenchman with players like Cristiano Ronaldo leaving little room on the wage bill.
That leaves the prospect of Pogba leaving to play in his homeland with Paris Saint-Germain, who are reportedly putting together a proposal to offer Manchester United. Pogba’s head may well have been turned by Les Parisiens‘ reported interest, but when it comes to decision time, would one of the world’s leading midfielders really want to commit to the less competitive French league when signing perhaps the last big contract of his career?
The answer to that question may well be no when Pogba considers the alternative of staying at Old Trafford. Since the more likeable Solskjaer replaced José Mourinho – with whom Pogba endured a fractious relationship – at the helm, the club have finished third and second in the league in the Norwegian’s two full seasons in charge.
The continually rapid improvement of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could leave Pogba feeling less defensively shackled when playing in his favoured position on the left side of central midfield. Going forward, Bruno Fernandes has successfully lessened the creative burden Pogba once single-handedly had to carry. Sancho has also arrived to add some much-needed flair to the right of United’s attack. For the first time since his return to the club in 2016, Pogba may become truly enamoured by his surroundings.
Why Realistic Routes to Silverware May Only be Found Abroad
On a less optimistic note, it should be stressed that for all the improvements Manchester United have made under Solskjaer, the club have not won anything since the Norwegian took charge. Pogba has been back in Manchester for five years now. The last four of those have ended trophyless.
It must also be noted that United’s last competitive game was last season’s Europa League final defeat by Villarreal. Despite losing to Spanish opposition, the manner of their performance across the 120 minutes must serve as a reminder of how far the Red Devils remain behind the best teams in their own domestic game.
While that Europa League final was a drab affair that failed to excite, the Champions League final was a vibrant encounter between runaway English champions Manchester City and Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea – a team that has come on leaps and bounds since the arrival of its captivating German manager.
Pogba will be asking himself if his United team will once again be mere also-rans next season even if he stays put. If he concludes that this is a likely scenario, he will ask himself what needs to be done for him to have a more realistic chance of winning silverware.
The outcome of that conundrum may simply be this: Pogba will pack his bags and find a new home. He has done so before. Agonisingly for Manchester United fans, they may end up watching him do so again.