By Salvatore Landolina & Wayne Veysey
Paul Pogba celebrated his 19th birthday last Thursday uncertain where he will play his football next season but safe in the knowledge that he is at the centre of a tug-of-war involving current and would-be employers, Manchester United and Juventus.
United have made moves to convince Pogba that his future lies at Old Trafford and prevent him from making a summer switch to Serie A by re-opening contract negotiations and giving the midfielder some first-team action.
Goal.com can reveal for the first time the details of the offer that the Frenchman has personally received from Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta.
It includes a five-year contract initially worth €500,000-a-year (£418,000-a-year) for each of the first two years, but with a clause that if he breaks into the first team his salary will rise to €1 million (£835,000) per annum, or €19,000-a-week (£16,000).
Sources in Italy have told Goal.com that Juventus have mapped out their specific plan for Pogba, which would involve him starting off with the youth side and then being promoted to the first team if his progress satisfies the coaching staff.
It can also be revealed that Juve will include the provision for Pogba to go out on loan to a Serie B club to further his development if this is requested by coach Antonio Conte and youth-team boss Marco Baroni.
Pogba and his representatives came to an outline agreement with Marotta over a deal starting in the summer, when his United contract expires, pending a decision from the Premier League champions.
Although Juventus were on the verge of closing a deal at the start of this month, it was not advanced to the point where the player signed a pre-contract, which he is now entitled to do with a club on the continent under Fifa transfer rules.
Should Pogba move abroad, United would not receive a transfer fee, although they would be due a nominal sum to cover ‘training compensation’ under Fifa regulations. A move within England would require a fee to be set by an independent tribunal.
There is a growing sense at Juventus that Pogba’s camp, which is headed by super agent Mino Raiola, could be using the offer on the table from the Italian giants as leverage to get a better deal from United and fast-track his progress into the first team set-up.
|"The boy is still trying to make his mind up, but he knows where he should be and he has shown the potential he has got. He is a first-team player, there is no question about that"
- Sir Alex Ferguson
United are keen to convince the France Under-19 international, who joined the club from Le Havre in 2009, that his future is best served at Old Trafford and senior officials including Sir Alex Ferguson are trying to persuade the player to turn his back on the Juventus deal.
With his future in the balance, it is perhaps no coincidence that Pogba has made cameo substitute appearances in each of United’s last three matches – against West Brom, Athletic Bilbao and Wolves. Up to that point, his first-team playing time outside of the League Cup had amounted to 17 minutes against Stoke City on the final day of the January transfer window.
Speaking after United’s Premier League win over West Brom 10 days ago, Ferguson admitted that Pogba had yet to decide whether to stick or twist.
“The boy is still trying to make his mind up, but he knows where he should be and he has shown the potential he has got,” said the United manager. “He is a first-team player, there is no question about that.”
Ferguson is loathe to lose a young central midfielder who he rates so highly and who had initially been earmarked for the first team in 2012-13 so soon after reluctantly allowing Ravel Morrison to join West Ham.
The Scot has been outspoken about the influence of Pogba’s representatives, who he accused earlier this year of chasing the best cash offer for their client.
He said: “Matt Busby summed it up perfectly, that you don't need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, it will eventually find you. If you're good enough, you will earn money and become rich playing for us, there's no doubt about it.”