Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is alleged to have been close to joining Paris Saint-Germain in the final days of the European transfer window, with very bold claims that it was only the failure of Neymar’s proposed move to Barcelona that stopped it happening.
Pogba was heavily linked with a move away from United for most of the summer, but it was Real Madrid and, to a much lesser extent, Juventus who were supposedly eyeing the Frenchman.
The Old Trafford club remained adamant that Pogba was not for sale. There were rumours that they might consider a sale for an offer between £150m and £200m depending on the source. Perhaps as importantly, it is believed Real never made anything close to an acceptable offer.
There has even been doubt as to just how serious Real were in their pursuit, fully aware that their existing €300m summer made any deal virtually impossible.
What’s more, as soon as the Premier League transfer window closed on 8 August and United could no longer replace departing players, the shutters went down even further.
That is why the claims of CalcioMercato that Pogba could have joined PSG at the very end of the European transfer window had it not been for Neymar staying put are difficult to believe.
The Italian website comments that Real never met the Pogba’s valuation from either the club’s or his agent’s perspective – a €90m fee and €20m annual salary. That perhaps stands to reason, although whether Los Blancos ever made a formal offer of that much still remains debatable.
But it is the subsequent claim that PSG agreed a €150m (£134m) fee with United and a contract with the player worth €25m each season – the equivalent of around £430,000-per-week – that throws up red flags. In this rather suspect version of events, United were willing to sell. And it’s not just that, but that they could possibly have done so after the Premier League deadline. It simply doesn’t fit or concur with anything else that we already know about the saga as a whole.
Additionally, CalcioMercato suggest the only reason Pogba isn’t currently a PSG player is because the French champions were not able to offload Neymar, presumably something that would have freed up funds and space on the wage bill.
But it is worth noting that had a deal for Neymar been agreed it would have seen PSG receive three players in part-exchange – Jean-Clair Todibo, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele – and they would at least have had to pay the last two very handsomely.
Dembele never agreed to it anyway and just as it has been rumoured that Real were never genuinely serious about pursuing Pogba, it has been rumoured that Barcelona were similarly just going through the motions with Neymar, putting on a public charade but little more.
It has even been reported that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu never personally met with PSG, Neymar or the player’s father/agent at any point during the summer, surely a prerequisite of any transfer, as had been the case when Frenkie de Jong was signed.
So just how close was the Brazilian to leaving PSG in reality?
The Sun got a little giddy in their re-write of the Pogba aspect of the story, shouting loudly at the top of the page, “Man Utd star Paul Pogba ‘agreed massive £429,000-a-week deal with PSG before deadline day but transfer broke down because of Neymar’.”
The tabloid doubled down by including a very misleading line that read, ‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he was willing to sell the 26-year-old’. That claim was linked back to a previous gossip article sourced from speculation and containing no Solskjaer quotes saying anything of the sort.
Solskjaer has never publicly said anything other than praise for Pogba. Anything else pertaining to the United manager’s thoughts on the player is pure guesswork.