Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba met Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during recent separate trips to Dubai, and the media sensationalised reaction to it has jumped to predictable conclusions.
Pogba, who had travelled to the Emirate state to work on his recovery from a troublesome foot injury, was pictured greeting Zidane, who was there for the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sport (DAIS) Conference. There is no knowledge of what was said or how planned it may or may not have been, but you can imagine the headlines that emerged as a result of one photograph.
‘Paul Pogba meets Zinedine Zidane in Dubai to add fresh fuel to Man Utd transfer talk’, exclaimed the Daily Mirror.
‘Manchester United star Paul Pogba seen meeting with Zinedine Zidane in Dubai during injury rehab fuelling Real Madrid transfer speculation,’ crowed the Daily Mail.
‘Paul Pogba spotted with Zinedine Zidane in Dubai as Man Utd face battle to keep Real Madrid transfer target,’ gleefully wrote The Sun.
All three successfully shoehorned the word ‘transfer’ into a salacious story.
Zidane is a known admirer of Pogba and wanted to sign him for Real Madrid during the summer transfer window – his employers are thought to have been less keen as a result of the enormous costs involved – while Pogba is alleged to been to link up with his fellow countryman.
The picture was an ‘exclusive’ for the Mirror and the story built around it was framed entirely by transfer speculation harking back to the summer, providing no new insight into the saga.
Oddly, the Mirror soon published a follow-up story online as if to shoot down their own earlier piece – ‘Truth behind Dubai meeting between Man Utd star Paul Pogba and Zinedine Zidane’.
All it did was clarify why each man was in Dubai at the time, which wasn’t exactly a secret.