21 Midfielder Juventus France
2014 has been...
…a bit less bang but a lot more buck.
In October Paul Pogba celebrated putting pen to paper on a new Juventus contract in thoroughly modern fashion by posting a picture on Instagram. The club posted one too, with Pogba kissing his Juve badge and smiling. The new contract represented reward for a player who as recently as two years ago was a prospect and today is world-class. He now pockets a reported £70,000 per week and contrary to some of the money spent in football, we would suggest he’s worth every single penny.
We gave him an A last year and this 12 months has continued in much the same fashion. We urged you to “pull up a chair and watch” and we hope you have. He’s young and prone to the occasional inconsistent performance, but we have to repeat a point we made in his report last year – he is, perhaps, the most complete player on this list.
This year has been about ticking things off the list. Another title with Juve – tick. Force his way into the France World Cup squad – tick. Force his way into the France first eleven – tick. Win Young Player of the Tournament at the World Cup – tick. Be the only Serie A player on the Balon d’Or shortlist – tick. Be the youngest player on the Balon d’Or shortlist – tick. He has a stated ambition to be the best player in the world, is he on his way? Well, he’s certainly trying.
Decisions, decisions. Continually courted by every team at the top of the Champions League seedings and beyond, Paul Pogba, at the age of just 21, is coming to a crossroads. The second of his career.
The first came at Manchester United where he found himself in a difficult position. Knowing he needed to make his way into the first team but seemingly not being trusted to do so forced his hand into a move. He decided to go, after some outlandish wage demands were made by his agent as a smokescreen to facilitate the transfer, and he took the plunge with Juventus.
This second crossroads is a question of commitment. Yes we know he signed the contract in October but this is football, a world where contracts mean roughly the same as the average election promise. Here is his financial reality in Turin; £70k per week puts him the club’s top earners bracket but is probably less than half of what he could expect on the back of a move to any one of the oil-rich bracket of clubs, or many more who would break their own rules to sign him. Here is his playing reality in Turin; domestically he is at the club who should win their league relatively easily again but probably won’t trouble the latter stages of the Champions League. It’s not that Juventus aren’t talented enough to go far in the competition, it’s more a question of being able to raise it at the right time when many of their league games can be coasted through. This may seem overly critical of the standard of competition in Serie A as things stand, but the evidence supports the view and as fans of Italian football there’s more than one broken heart at IBWM Towers.
So it comes down to this, his new contract runs until 2019 but as early as next summer he’s going to have to look at a) how far he wants to challenge himself and b) just how much money does he want to make. Juve fans want to keep him for as long as possible but reality bites. They can’t offer head-turning money but plenty can and will for Pogba. £70k per week is a relative fortune, but £150k per week is impossible to ignore.
Chelsea, Manchesters City and United and PSG are all waiting to move at the first sign of encouragement. At the head of the queue are Real Madrid who see him as a replacement for the indecisive Sami Khedira, and in our opinion despite Sami’s vast talent they would be trading up. Khedira’s refusal to sign a new contract (as we write this rumours of a slightly surprising deal for next year with Bayern are swirling around and those Arsenal headlines show no sign of stopping) could force Real’s hand in the summer and Juventus may be powerless to do anything other than get as much money as possible for their brilliant young midfielder.
Canny negotiators they may be and Manchester United’s flawed pursuit of Vidal in the summer was proof, but Juve will know they can get *big* money for Pogba without the spectre of a damaged knee bringing the fee down. If Real, Chelsea or a potentially Yaya-less Manchester City use a tournament free summer to begin their courtship of him officially, it will be incredibly tough for Juventus to keep him. The decision will be with the player - just what do you want to do next, Paul?
“The only Serie A representative on the Balon d’Or shortlist, Pogba is steadily moving upwards, his aim of being “the best player in the World” well within his grasp. Limitless potential” – Adam Digby
"Paul Pogba was involved in 14 goals for Juventus last season in Serie A, scoring seven and assisting seven." - OptaJoe
A Keeps his top mark but unless he drives Juventus to the Champions League last four there’s going to be an argument that he’s in his comfort zone next time around. Nous t’aimons Monsieur Pogba. Still.
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