Paul Pogba is accustomed to generating headlines, with the enigmatic midfielder once the most expensive footballer on the planet, but few could have predicted that he would become caught up in a saga involving supposed blackmail and accusations of witchcraft. The France international’s own brother, Mathias, has threatened to blow the lid on a remarkable story, with family feuds adding another intriguing subplot to the drama.
What has been said, when, why and who by? GOAL casts an eye over a series of unfortunate events that have brought the World Cup winner, who swapped Manchester United for Juventus during the summer of 2022, screaming back into the spotlight.
What happened between Paul Pogba and his brother?
Mathias Pogba delivered a bombshell announcement that came out of the blue on August 28, with a video posted on social media translated into four languages.
It promised “explosive revelations” about Juve star Paul Pogba so that his loyal fan base can “decide, knowingly, if he really deserves the admiration, respect and love of the public, if he deserves his place in the France team, if he deserves to start at Juventus, if he is a trustworthy person.”
Mathias, who has five international caps for Guinea and was last on the books of French side Belfort, also vowed to disclose revelations about lawyer Rafaela Pimenta – who has been charged with the task of managing Pogba’s career following the death of Italian agent Mino Raiola.
Kylian Mbappe was also unwittingly dragged into the discussion, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward – who is an international colleague of Pogba – alleged to have been the subject of an apparent 'witchcraft' request.
How did Paul Pogba respond to his brother?
Pogba did not take kindly to seeing his name and image dragged through the mud and sought immediate legal advice, with a statement released by his lawyers stating: "Mathias Pogba's recent statements on social networks are unfortunately not a surprise.
"They come on top of threats and extortion attempts by an organised gang against Paul Pogba. The competent authorities in Italy and France were informed a month ago and there will be no further comments on the ongoing investigation."
Was Paul Pogba the victim of a blackmail attack?
An investigation into an alleged extortion attempt was opened in August, with France Info obtaining a copy of Pogba’s hearings.
It is claimed that the 29-year-old midfielder told police that he was taken to an apartment in the suburbs of Paris and threatened by hooded men armed with assault rifles.
His attackers are said to have demanded €13 million (£11m/$13m) for "service rendered", namely protection "in all discretion" since the start of Pogba’s career.
These individuals then reportedly invited themselves unannounced to training sessions at Manchester United and Juventus, where more intimidation tactics were carried out.
Pogba claims to have recognised his brother in the company of the gangs – one that he eventually paid €100,000 to after being threatened with the public release of accusations that would be more damaging to his image.
Why is Mbappe associated with the Pogba affair?
Pogba claims that his blackmailers wish to discredit him by claiming that he sought the assistance of a witch doctor when attempting to put a curse on France colleague Mbappe.
Mathias Pogba said in a series of social media posts: “What I was waiting for has happened: my little brother is finally starting to show his real face.
“Since he is the one who started talking lies to the police and who is getting the info out, you can't blame me for anything. You really wanted to silence me, even if it means lying and sending me to prison.”
He added: "Kylian, do you understand now? I have nothing against you, what I am saying is for your good, everything is true and known, the witch doctor is known!
“Sorry for this brother, a so-called Muslim up to his neck in witchcraft.”
Paul Pogba has denied any involvement with a witch doctor, but L’Equipe reports that a video exists which supports Mathias’ claims.
Will Paul Pogba still be selected by France?
Pogba is currently sidelined through injury, but he is hoping to be back in time to secure his spot in France’s squad for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
Any issue with Mbappe, who is said to be keeping a “watchful eye” on events from afar, could put that position under threat.
Didier Deschamps is set to name his next squad on September 15, which is likely to see Pogba miss out due to a lack of game time.
He does, however, have big decisions to make prior to Les Bleus opening the defence of their global crown on November 22 against Australia.
Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), has said: “I love Paul. I hope that this does not call into question his place in the France team. At this stage these are just rumours”.