Why Paul Pogba to Barcelona must not happen
Barcelona's alleged interest in Paul Pogba dominated the English press for two weeks after the Spanish media let it go. Well, it's not a new thing in football. The big teams always want the top players. Sometimes it's a quest for strength and the signing is needed. In this case, if there's anything to the rumours and Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu wasn't just politely answering a reporter's question when he said "the door's always open" for Pogba at the Camp Nou, it can only be greed.
Reports allege Pogba and Jose Mourinho aren't on good terms at Old Trafford. That's believable given their polarised personalities and styles. After the 2-1 victory over Leicester City, Pogba's comment hinted at tension behind the Old Trafford scenes.
There are things I can't say else I will get fined.
The Sun ran with that hint at discord. Citing an anonymous source they wrote about an unverified dust-up in which Mourinho allegedly requested Pogba tone down his social media presence and the player reportedly referred the manager to his agent.
If Barcelona wanted to use this as an opportunity to snatch Pogba away from Manchester United, the timing was poor. Pogba's a brilliant midfielder any manager would covet. His work rate's exceptional. He's a delight to watch with his skills on the ball. Pogba adds to the game from both in attack and defence. He's physical, create chances and scores goals. In broad terms, he should improve any side. But the Premier League transfer window closed. United can't replace the Frenchman if they wanted in the first place. That's why the story died in the Spanish press.
Rumours picked up again after United's defeat to Brighton. If anything tells you it's an opportunistic rumour, the fact it didn't persist while United were riding high should. When Mourinho's team inevitably bounces back, the rumours will die again. One or two bad games is not a barometer for a player's future. Pogba was benched last season and is still a United player. Now, he's wearing the captain's armband in Antonio Valencia's absence. Does he sound like a player with one foot out the door to you? There's fantasy and reality.
European teams can sign players till the window close at the month's end although Barca must know any advance will be ignored until United can bring in a player. An offer in January or next summer would have to be treated seriously. If it occurs, the Red Devils and Pogba must oppose it at any cost.
Barcelona don't need Pogba; United do. An argument for need might've held weight before the Blaugrana signed Arturo Vidal. Now they have their physical presence. The Chilean plays like a possessed beast who's always working both on and off the ball. He's an offensive and defensive threat for opponents. Vidal offers the brutal strength to Barca they lacked since Arda Turan went on loan to Istanbul Basaksehir. Like the Turk, he'll play a supporting role from the bench.
That isn't a role that suits Pogba. As well, his penchant to take on the first defender or attempt a long pass doesn't fit Barcelona's short passing game. Whatever differences between Mourinho and Pogba, the Frenchman's skills fit into the Portuguese's attacking tactics. With players like Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez and [for now] Anthony Martial, those long passes spring the counterattack on which Jose's sides thrive.
Pogba sets up on the left. Would Ernesto Valverde prefer him to Philippe Coutinho? I don't think so. Coutinho matches Barcelona's style and is already an important player in the team. Pogba's lot at Barcelona would be worse than Neymar's. He must know as much. It's far more believable for Real Madrid to come in for him. While negotiating his transfer from Juventus to Old Trafford, the press reported the Santiago Bernabeu as the alternate destination.
The best thing in life is going where needed, not where you might be an option. Life may be difficult at United but Pogba's needed. Mourinho's press conference between the Leicester and Brighton games revealed as much. The manager bent over backwards to compliment his star. The fans love him, too, and Ed Woodward. If Mourinho was insincere, his marketing-oriented CEO understands the Frenchman's full worth. If one from the supposedly clashing pair must go, it won't be the Frenchman.
Paul Pogba to Barcelona is a ridiculous deal that should never happen. Nor do I think it will.