Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is again being linked with a move back to the Premier League. But could he possibly return to Manchester United?
Pogba turned his back on United in 2012 to join Juventus for a pittance after making just three substitute appearances in the Premier League.
Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson accused the France international of a lack of ‘respect’ after Pogba was offered a new contract.
For his part, Pogba says he was left ‘disgusted’ when Rafael and Park Ji-sung were chosen to play in central midfield ahead of him against Blackburn in December 2011.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Pogba is certainly right to have been left disgruntled by what happened with that Blackburn game, especially given how highly rated he was at the time.
He has proved his worth since after winning the title in both seasons at Juventus, Pogba’s decision to leave United has been vindicated.
Yet this summer could see the 21-year-old leave Juventus. The wheels, if not yet truly in motion, certainly feel like they’re being greased.
His agent recently stated that Pogba will leave, even if he doesn’t know when, while Juventus’ general manager Beppe Marotta acknowledged the club will struggle to keep him if a big offer comes in.
But could he return to Old Trafford? And would it be an acknowledgement that United made an expensive mistake in letting him go in the first place?
It would certainly be costly to bring him back. Reports in Italy have claimed that United have offered in the region of £61million, which would eclipse the sum they paid to sign Angel di Maria from Real Madrid last summer.
Given that United are now on their second manager since Ferguson retired, though, it is not a failing of the present regime if big money needs to be paid to sign Pogba.
For current manager Louis van Gaal, it is about whether Pogba is the player he needs to improve his midfield. Put simply, yes he is.
He has many of the attributes that United’s current midfield lack. Pogba has a physical presence and dynamism to him, and he also provides a goal threat. He scored seven goals in Serie A last season and already has five this season.
Pogba is the all-round midfielder that would improve any team.
But United won’t have a clear path to signing him. Chelsea have been linked with a £40million offer which would see one, maybe two players join Juventus in part exchange. Paris Saint-Germain are also reported to be lining up a bid.
The one thing in United’s favour over Chelsea and PSG is that they can afford Pogba. The other two clubs have to be wary of Financial Fair Play implications and so their attempts to sign Pogba would be far more complicated.
The one thing against United, though, could be Pogba’s memories of his time there.
However, Van Gaal is most definitely his own man. If he can persuade Pogba that Old Trafford is the best place for him, then the player won’t have to worry about being overlooked for a starting spot in favour of a right-back again.