Steve McManaman exclusive: United 'mad' to pay £100 million for Pogba

Steve McManaman
Yahoo Sport UK
Steve McManaman exclusive: United 'mad' to pay £100 million for Pogba
Steve McManaman exclusive: United 'mad' to pay £100 million for Pogba

The football world will have officially gone mad if Manchester United pay £100m to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus this summer.

I am not suggesting Pogba is a bad player by any means, but the idea of handing over a world record fee for a promising hard working midfielder would offer graphic evidence that the top Premier League clubs have lost all sense of perspective in a summer when the clubs are overwhelmed by the cash injections being ploughed into the game by the new television deal.

Pogba has been okay for France over the course of Euro 2016, but nothing more than that.

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In fact, you look at his pretty average display in the semi-final against Germany on Thursday and question whether Jose Mourinho has trained his thoughts on the wrong man as he looks to rebuild the United squad he has inherited from Louis van Gaal.

You only have to glance at the possession statistics in the compelling France v Germany game to appreciate that Pogba was not able to stem the tide of German attacking play, with Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger outshining him in the midfield battle.

If Pogba is this world beating superstar some are suggesting he will become, surely he would have had a bigger influence on that game than we saw? However, there are other factors in play when football clubs weigh up big money transfers now.

Pogba has starred in his time at Juventus
Pogba has starred in his time at Juventus

For starters, English clubs have crazy money to play with this summer and that is inspiring every agent in the game to try and get their players into the Premier League. Everyone is a £25m or £30m player now and you don't even have to be particularly special to fall into that inflated price category.

I felt I was fortunate to be part of the game at a time when players were earning big money, yet everything has moved up a few levels in the last few years and it is hard to believe where we are heading now.

The idea of paying £100m for a footballer and shattering the world transfer record in the process is taking things to a whole new level, with Pogba not the player I would pick for footballing reasons to be that ground breaking player.

Yet you look at surveys and analysis from public relations companies and they all suggest Pogba is one of the most marketable sportsmen in the world right now. Make no mistake, that factor now comes in to play when United go after a player like Pogba.

He is associated with the same sportswear brand that have signed a record breaking deal with United, he is young and, crucially, he also has a big presence on social media sites.

It seems remarkable to even begin to suggest that top football clubs like United or Liverpool sign players based on how many followers they have on Twitter, but it is not as crazy as it sounds.

When Liverpool signed Mario Balotelli two summers ago, there were suggestions that his social media activity and his big follower numbers were part of the attraction to complete the deal, which is the way the game is going now.

Personally, if I were Mourinho and United, I would look to spend the £100m they appear trio have earmarked for Pogba on his France team-mate Antoine Griezmann, who has been the shining star of Euro 2016 this summer. There is a game changer who could transform a good side into a great one and he is not alone in that category.

I would also be tempted to splash that kind of cash on Cristiano Ronaldo in his prime or Gareth Bale right now. They are players who are likely to provide a team with 30-40 goals next season and they could be the difference between winning or losing major trophies.

The question I would ask is this: Is Pogba really going to turn a United side that struggled horribly for long periods last season into title contenders? My answer would be no.

I would suggest they could spend that kind of crazy money in a more productive way, but I have given up trying to work out how this game works in an era when businessmen, social media officers and marketing gurus are all colliding to transform football into something far beyond a sport.

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