It seems always on the eve of a crucial game for Manchester United, the story tends to revolve around Paul Pogba and not in the way United would want. Mino Raiola once again caused controversy and anger amongst United fans as he claimed “It’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United.”
Of course, it remains abundantly clear that Mino Raiola wants his client to leave Old Trafford. Raiola has been trying such since the midway point of the 2017/18 season has been pushing for Pogba to force his way out. Pogba has not done so and has seemingly refused to put in a transfer request during the three years since these original comments. However he remains silent over his agent’s remarks and has neither validated or condoned them. Leaving these words surrounding the Frenchman as an unwanted cloud of doubt around the player.
Why has this interview caused such a stir?
This interview, recorded a week before its release, was released not only just before a crucial game against Leipzig but a day after Pogba’s excellent performance against West Ham. He gave an interview to MUTV that has now been totally discredited by his agent’s words:
“I feel confident, I feel myself, like more in my legs and physically I feel much better. It’s good, you know, just to get back in the team, and to score this goal to help the team get back in the game, it’s very important for the team. I’m very happy for that…I’m finding my rhythm as well. I feel so much better today, I felt I could go again, control the game, getting the ball. That’s what I like, myself. That’s what I think is good for the team. I’m a team player. As long as the team wins, that’s the most important, you know. I find myself good and we want to win. That’s why I came here and that’s why I want to be successful.”
From listening to this, many United fans would have been happy to see Paul Pogba happier, playing his best football and ready to fight for his place in this squad. But his agent once again dampens the mood with his remarks that juxtapose that of Pogba’s:
“Paul is unhappy at Manchester United, he can no longer express himself as he wants to or in the way that’s expected of him. He needs to change team, he needs a change of scene. He has a contract that expires in a year and a half’s time, in the summer of 2022, but I think the best solution would be for him to leave in the next transfer window.”
Why this has backfired on both Mino Raiola and Paul Pogba
This contrast between the two comments leave much to interpretation. Does Pogba feel differently in the last week? Did he ask his agent to say any of this? Was he even aware of the interview? If Raiola’s plan was to cause Pogba’s value to increase it has not worked. All it has done is raise speculation of his loyalties and what positives he said on Saturday. It says one of two things. Pogba is either being disingenuous with the club and allowing his agent to speak his true mind. Or that Pogba and Raiola are on different wavelengths and want different things from each other. I would prefer to believe the latter but I will entertain both possibilities in this article:
Option 1: The two-faced hypothesis
The idea of this baffles me but is something that many United fans do believe. Pogba came out and said declared his happiness to be playing for this team and wants the team to succeed. All while his agent prepares for his transfer and continues to make a mockery of Manchester United throughout. This news comes after reports suggesting Pogba and Manchester United were in contract talks over a long term deal not a few weeks ago and that, over the summer, he remained happy at Manchester United and wanted to commit to the club.
As fans we do not see the whole story. What goes on in the dressing room, behind closed doors and during the contract talks. So we do not know for certain whether Pogba is happy or wants to leave. Why did the contract talks break down or if they were even officially held? We also are unaware of what United and the squad think of this constant speculation. Stories continue to pour out of Old Trafford that Paul Pogba is unhappy and Manchester United are unhappy with his conduct.
If Pogba does want to leave, but continues to remain silent on his agent’s remarks, the best case scenario I can see is that he will remain a professional and keep playing for the club until he is allowed to leave. What could have an adverse effect is how a player that openly wants to leave is preferred to players who want to stay and how that could cause problems in the dressing room.
How do these circumstances end?
If this is the scenario then I do not see it ending well for either parties. It will end in a messy January transfer window. However, I will only believe Pogba will leave United when I see him signing a deal for either Real Madrid, PSG or Juventus. Until then I expect him to play for the badge and continue to drive Manchester United back to the top. Especially if he is to start tonight.
Option Two: Pogba and Raiola want different things
I see this as the more likely scenario. I cannot understand how Pogba would speak as he did in the interview with MUTV with the knowledge that his agent would speak as he did the week before. Not only would it disgrace the club he plays for but it would make him look as he does in the first scenario. Two faced and deceitful. I think Pogba wants to keep his head down and see whether this is a team he can play for and succeed in. Be that his right or not, this is the season that will decide that for him.
As for Raiola, we have seen what ambitions he has. He wants his players to move as then he is rewarded with bumper agent fees as a result. News broke in 2017 that FIFA did investigate the deal from Juventus as Mino Raiola earned himself £41m from the deal in agent fees. Would it surprise anyone if Mino Raiola is looking for another bumper fee again?
In analysing his clients, such as Matthijs De Ligt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Erling Haaland and Gianluigi Donnarumma, there are not many who look ready to leave. The only player who could leave and for a high-profile fee? Surprise, surprise, Paul Pogba. I would not be surprised if Mino Raiola is once again causing speculation over his client to force United’s hand. Especially with the contract talks reportedly stalling.
The powers that be at United will see the social media storm Raiola’s comments have caused. Pundits and fans alike have been calling for Pogba to be dropped and moved on quickly. Be it the right response or not. They will see the unrest with the fans and perhaps aim to move Pogba on quicker as a result and Raiola’s coffers filled.
How do these circumstances end?
I fear if Paul Pogba continues to say nothing in response to his agent’s remarked, he will be tainted for life. He is certainly not doing the right thing by ignoring these comments made by his agent. Pogba could be innocent in this but it has not been received as such. Especially after making contradictory statements to them in the space of just a week.
He either has to leave United and start fresh or he has to sign a new deal and sack Raiola. I genuinely hope that the latter will happen because I enjoy watching Pogba play and know what qualities he can, has and could bring to United. I want him to stay and I refute any statements that he is overrated, not good enough and not done enough for the club.
Unfortunately, I am not optimistic of this as if Pogba has stayed with Raiola this long, why would he change now? Raiola will facilitate a move away as it benefits him. Pogba will feel the move will benefit him too as the fans have turned on him due to his agent’s comments. It seems a manipulative plan from Raiola that benefits him but causes more problems for Pogba. Why Pogba cannot see his selfishness is beyond me. I hope this conflict and confusion is resolved away from the matches. It has clouded what is a crucial week for Manchester United as it did before a different derby day three years ago. If this continues, I cannot see any way forward for both parties and they will break from each other very soon.