In August 2016, Paul Pogba returned to Old Trafford for what was - at the time - a world record fee of £89.3m. It was seen by the club as the signing of, not just one of the world's best midfielders, but also the most marketable football in the world.
With Jose Mourinho at the helm, it seemed as if the Red Devils had combined one of the most successful coaches in the world with one of the most exciting young talents. After David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed to live up to expectations, fans were optimistic about an opportunity to challenge at Europe's elite level once again.
The first year went well, as Manchester United won both the Europa League and the League Cup. Nevertheless, a defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter finals and an abject sixth position in the Premier League meant there were still room for improvement.
Going into the 2017-18 campaign, there was a real sense of positivity at Old Trafford. Manchester United supporters felt that this was the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement they could properly challenge for the league title. Unfortunately for them, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City became an all encompassing Premier League power at the same time.
The Sky Blues became the Premier League's first ever centurions; while the Red Devils would finish a whopping 19 points off the pace.
Some people make polemic even from “good morning” to create drama 🙄 Big Pogoodmorning everyone hope u get it twisted 😂— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) September 24, 2018
After a relatively disappointing season, Paul Pogba would go into the 2018 World Cup in an unusually reserved manner. There were no adidas campaigns, no flashy haircuts, and no talk of his club side. The Frenchman was in Russia to win.
The former Juventus man was a central figure in Les Bleus' glory, scoring a goal in the FIFA World Cup final and leading a hugely talented French midfield throughout.
A video released from France's dressing room highlighted the midfielder motivating his teammates for the biggest match of their lives.
After rallying the troops with his speech, Pogba scored his side's third before providing an incredible 50-yard volley pass for Kylian Mbappe.
So, here we are. While Manchester United have recovered from one of their worst ever starts in Premier League history, many will question whether Jose Mourinho still has the gift that made him so successful over a decade ago. Possibly disillusioned with struggling after his summer triumph, Pogba's recent quotes make you wonder if he seeks pastures anew.
Speaking to Telefoot after being questioned about a move to Catalonia, the central dynamo said: “I’m under contract. There were little things with the coach [Mourinho], the relationship is always the same.
“We have goals in common, we want to win, that’s all that matters.
“As long as you do not see me with the Barcelona jersey, it’s because I’m in Manchester. It will always be rumours.”
To many this may seem like nothing. However, the trained eye will notice much more. These days, being under contract means very little. While Paul Pogba may be Manchester United's chief asset, if he wants a move to Barcelona, it's likely super agent Mino Raiola can get him one.
Most crucial of all Pogba's comments is his last. True, rumours are rumours. That is, until they become a reality.
While a ten year deal between the Old Trafford side and Pogba's main sponsor in adidas is nice, the lure of winning a Champions League with other brand head Lionel Messi may just be too tempting an offer to turn down. The Catalan club recently sent scouts to watch the Frenchman play in United's opening Group H match away to BSC Young Boys, and Pogba thoroughly impressed.
Speculation of a return to Juventus has also been rampant recently, and stranger things have indeed happened. An opportunity to play with either Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi gifts Pogba the chance to provide assists to one of the modern era's two greats.
Manchester United cannot afford to lose Paul Pogba. The problem is however, they might not be able to stop him from leaving.