The Return of the Prodigal?

By Adam Joseph

“But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.”

– Luke 15:32, the Bible.

Could this sentence echo the return of Manchester United’s fallen son. Because Paul Pogba might be walking back through that door.

The French starlet departed Old Trafford in acrimonious circumstances following a lack of first team opportunities. Four years later after wowing the football world with Juventus, Pogba appears set to return barring a late Real Madrid raid or Ed Woodward transfer bottling.

Per various outlets, personal terms have long been agreed with the player and the final details of the transfer fee and the agent/player fee received by Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola is still being sorted.

The club had a gentleman’s agreement with player and agent that any future sale would see them receive 30 percent of the fee, but now Juventus would like Manchester United to pay that. It seems more than likely, it will get sorted.

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There are many ways to perceive the situation, but it is playing out very well for both clubs which might be the intended design. United get their man at any cost and flex financial muscle no other club possesses, meanwhile Juventus appear to have done everything in their power to keep their man. It works out well publicly for both sides.

However Manchester United fans have learned over the years that nothing is done until the player is holding that shirt at Old Trafford. Transfer sagas have become something of a tradition at the club, but this summer could somewhat spell the end of that.

Manchester will always be the hub of news, speculation and annoying rumours but that is par the course of one of the world’s biggest football clubs. If they are proving anything in the market this summer though; they might be setting themselves apart as the biggest.

If the Pogba deal holds true and he becomes a Manchester United player, it will become two successive summers that the club has beaten Real Madrid in the transfer market. However the De Gea saga is perceived, he stayed at the club and would have left this summer if he really wanted to go, but he has remained.

The €60m release clause the Spaniard had placed in his four-year renewal signed last year has already expired, and was for this summer if Real Madrid came calling. United’s biggest signing of the summer could actually be keeping their star keeper, who has held together a poor defence in recent years.

For fans of the club, the renewed feelings of good will around the club are refreshing and have been badly needed after three years of incredible mismanagement and ongoing mistakes.

Mistakes have still been made of course; the tour to China has been a disaster, and the ramifications on field could be a slow start to the season as the latest friendly with Manchester City has been cancelled due to the horrendous conditions. The pitch was worse than the ground closest to where most people live.

The signing of Paul Pogba can appease all these concerns though. The Frenchman can transform the club on and off the field. Everyone has seen his talents displayed in brief videos on various social media or Vines, but it’s debatable besides the Champions League how many people tune into Serie A weekly that aren’t hardcore Italian football fans.

He is an incredible long range shooter and dribbler, with his physicality and athleticism a key feature of his free roaming midfield ability. Equally adept as a creator Pogba can play in the wide men and forwards with through balls and clever passing, and is also good in the air. The best part, he isn’t the finished product.

Perhaps this is why there is some concern about the transfer fee. €94 million for Gonzalo Higuain makes the €100m plus fee (to be determined, likely around the €120m range) for Pogba not seem so exorbitant. Like Anthony Martial’s signing, it is an investment in potential though Pogba has far more established quality.

What has made so many opposing fans concerned with the money Manchester United is spending all of a sudden though? Rivals have come out in droves to express their disgust at such sums being spent on a player. The irony is not lost that a player being hailed as the world’s best young player is now overrated in the eyes of those same fans.

It seems life comes at you fast:

Sometimes though it is ok to admit a rival has signed a great player. N’Golo Kante is a sensational signing for Chelsea, particularly at a below market £32 million. Granit Xhaka is an exceptionally clever signing for Arsenal, and was one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga. Just because they’ve signed for a rival doesn’t change that.

However that is the nature of football, and now with the incredible money being lavished on transfer fees this will only become exacerbated as fans and analysts struggle to adjust to the money pouring into English football.

Regardless, attention returns to Paul Pogba. Is he going to walk through that door at Old Trafford once more?

Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.

Follow him on twitter @AdamJosephSport

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