If Manchester United bid €120m for Pogba, Juventus must say no

Paul Pogba Juventus Palermo Serie A
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The Red Devils are preparing a world-record bid for their former player but the Bianconeri need to keep the French international if they are to win the Champions League


Former Manchester boss Sir Alex Ferguson still likes to make out that Mino Raiola was to blame for Paul Pogba leaving Old Trafford four years ago.

"I distrusted him from the moment I met him," he wrote in his latest book, 'Leading', which was released last August. "We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign.

"But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco. He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to integrate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus."

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Ferguson may appreciate Pogba the player, but, even now, it's clear that he doesn't understand Pogba the man. The Frenchman didn't leave United because of Raiola. He left because of Ferguson. Pogba wanted to play. Ferguson wouldn't let him - even in a league game against Blackburn in December 2011 when United were short on options in the middle of the park. Pogba understandably felt his big chance had finally arrived. Ferguson felt a right-back was a better option.

"Paul Scholes had retired; Darren Fletcher was injured - there was no one left to play in midfield," Pogba explained in an interview with Canal+ . "And I was training and I was beginning to get better bit by bit and the coach never stopped telling me, 'You're this far away.'

"And I didn't understand. This far away from what? Playing? From having some playing time? From getting on the field? Or what?.. And there was Rafael in midfield and I was disgusted."

It was at that moment that Pogba realised he would have to go elsewhere to realise his ambitions. And those ambitions are lofty. This is not a man motivated by money. He is driven by a determination to be the best he can be - and he firmly believes that he can be among the best to have ever played the game.

"At 23, I have won four league titles,” the Frenchman told La Repubblica earlier this year. “Only four. That is not enough for my ambition.

"I want to write a story. I want to become the greatest midfielder of all time. I want to become a legend like Pele or [Diego] Maradona. A legend of football."

Pogba's next move should thus be based on determining which club can provide him with the best platform on which to achieve that goal. As the reigning champions of Europe, long-time admirers Real Madrid obviously represent an attractive proposition, but the Blancos are understood to have exited this summer's race to sign Pogba for financial reasons.

Manchester United, meanwhile, cannot offer Champions League football but they can offer the chance to work with Jose Mourinho, as well as exorbitant wages. Goal understands that Pogba has already agreed to a salary of €13 million a year in Manchester, while Juventus have stuck an asking price of €120m on the Frenchman's head.

Pogba's current employers would be foolish to dismiss such a bid out of hand if, as expected, such an offer arrives. As former playmaker Andrea Pirlo pointed out earlier this year, "Juventus will want to keep him but sometimes you can get a transfer fee with which you can rebuild an entire team."

That is undeniably true. A market operator as canny as Beppe Marotta could do wonderful things with €120m. However, cashing in Pogba now would completely undermine Juve's bid to win the Champions League.

After five successive Scudetti, their primary focus is on conquering Europe. Pogba is a key part of the plan. He is the best midfielder in Serie A - and they have just signed the second-best, Miralem Pjanic, to play alongside him next season. That means that Massimiliano Allegri can now field a midfield of Pogba, Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio, with Alex Sandro and Dani Alves providing the penetration from out wide.

When one considers that Juve already boast the best back-line in the world (Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini) and Paulo Dybala in attack, it is clear that this Bianconeri side is arguably only one prolific striker shy of a Champions League-winning squad (hence, the recent flirting with Napoli superstar Gonzalo Higuain). Thus, Juve must ask Pogba why he would leave a club capable of winning the Champions League for one that won't even be in it next season.

The Italian champions must also play on the fact that they have provided him with everything he could have hoped to find in Turin: game time, trophies and the chance to play alongside the likes of Buffon and Pirlo, men he now describes as "role models".

"I want to achieve the same goals that they have in their careers," Pogba told the Gazzetta dello Sport in May. "I've improved in the last few years and I think that I had to because I was surrounded by great players that are humble, hard-working and make you work hard."

From a financial perspective, even Raiola would see the sense in Juve wanting to hold onto their most prized possession for another season (even if he stands to make 20% commission from Pogba's sale). "If Bale is worth €100m, then Paul is worth at least twice as much." Raiola said that three years ago and his client's value hasn't gone down in the interim; it has sky rocketed. It is only going to rise over the next 12 months, too, such is the ridiculous state of the transfer market.

As Raiola himself recently pointed out, “Just look at a player (Michy Batshuayi) who is on the bench of Belgium and Marseille, but has been sold for €40m [to Chelsea]."

Juve and Pogba made what Raiola called "a pact" last year, agreeing that they would let their star man depart if they received "a suitable offer". Crazy as it may seem, €120m does not represent a suitable offer for a player who has not yet peaked.

Furthermore, Juve do not need to sell. They do not need the money. They need Pogba. The challenge will be persuading Pogba that he still needs them.