The Times’ chief sports writer David Walsh says Paul Pogba ‘is not a strong enough character to lead Manchester United’.
The Frenchman is United’s record signing and is rarely out of the headlines, whether it is due to his performances on the pitch or to gossip about possible transfers, often fuelled by his outspoken agent, Mino Raiola.
On his day, Pogba is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in the world but there is often debate among fans as to whether those days are frequent enough. Some also have suggested that he is the kind of player that can be the diamond in the crown of a successful team but is not necessarily good at dragging up a team lacking in confidence.
‘The single greatest issue for United’s manager is to decide whether Paul Pogba is the problem or the solution,’ Walsh says.
‘Pogba does not always give the impression that he is as settled as the manager suggests, or that he is fully committed. At times he drifts through matches, present but not engaged.
‘Thursday was a good example. The doziness that allowed Robert Firmino the chance to score Liverpool’s third goal is something that Pogba has in his locker.
‘Pretty soon he will either sign a new contract or United will sell him. The speculation is that United are prepared to offer him £400,000 a week to commit to the club and who knows, maybe a deal will be done.
‘My feeling is that a separation would work well for both parties. Great teams are built on the character of their strongest personalities, those who give everything and insist on the same from those around them. Pogba is a good enough player but not the right character for a team struggling to make up lost ground.’
Fans commenting on The Peoples Person Facebook page are clearly divided on the issue. Many agree with Walsh:
‘I love Paul Pogba but that amount is just too much. Given the financial atmosphere right now it would be bad decision. It would do more harm than good.’
‘Not good for the fortune United paid. Not worth £400k a week. Cannot defend a simple set piece. Falls all the time. Loses the ball. Sell him while the going is good.’
‘He’s great in a very good team (read: Juventus, France) but not the person to make an average team a good/ great team. He’s not the catalyst, the inspiration. If he could have something he would have done it by now. It’s time to cash in …. United were a great team before and will be a greater team after.’
Other fans, however, believe that it would be a huge blow to United if Pogba were to leave.
‘We slipped and lost our footing in the title race the moment he got injured. He came back and we found our momentum again. Stop disrespecting Pogba. Like seriously. No one can fill his shoes in the entire Europe.’
‘If United want to challenge for big trophies, Pogba is a key player to have in the squad. Is 400k/week fair or not, I don’t know, but Pogba is very important to this United squad where the midfield lacks good players.’
What nearly all the commenters agreed upon was that the reported salary offer of £400,000 per week was too high.
‘To be fair he as changed my mind in terms of his worth to this team but that is twice the amount he should actually be paid.’
‘I’d extend his contract but he has to accept the same pay package, maybe include a lot of target based incentives.’
‘Great player but that’s way too much. Who’s making this decision?’
‘Nobody is worth that much.’
The dilemma for United is that it is unlikely any other team would pay Pogba that much in the current climate, but if he cannot be tempted to sign now then he will leave on a free transfer next summer. So the offer needs to be tempting enough to make him stay or a buyer has to be found that he accepts and who will pay now rather than wait a year to get him on a free transfer.
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