Agent: Why Player X it is you. It will always be you. You are the one everyone desires….
It was only five minutes ago we were discussing Ravel ‘best player since Paul Scholes’ Morrison and his worth to Manchester United. Real Madrid wanted him. Barcelona was going to send over a private jet personally flown by Gerard Pique. Russian giants were lining up to give him an oil well to travel East. And East the boy went, South East…to London giants West Ham United.
It was only a matter of time before the Pogba stink bomb went off and everyone from Salford to Singapore can smell the stench. The latest fact based on internet rumour is that the lad wants £45,000 a week to sign up, which is the sort of money someone in a blue collar job would be happy with a year. However this young man would be pocketing it every seven days.
Value is an overused word in the football industry. Fergie uses it to justify his inactivity in the top end of the market and how he has to develop from within, and that he would rather do this than purchase some bloke called Wesley from northern Italy. Clubs like City and Chelsea use the word to justify elaborate spending. I once heard Fernando Torres described as ‘value’. I also heard Samir Nasri called ‘a marvellous value purchase’. So how much is a prodigious talent like Paul Pogba really worth? What is his ‘value’?
Well the simple answer lies in the pre-global recession housing market: You go and you view a house. You think said house is nice or you may think said house is ‘la maison’ of your dreams. You look at the value of it. Then you decide how much you are going to try and get knocked off its value. In Britain we all love what we perceive to be a bargain. Current house owner then tells you to ‘do one’ when you try and get 20% knocked off, and a game of loggerheads begins.
Football is like this, with the Kia Joorabchians of the industry are the proverbial property estate agents, whoring your services to the planet. Pogba wants £45k. Who says he’s not worth £45k?! He is the home owner of his talents. His agent acts ‘in his best interests’, United want the house, it just depends on how bad they want that house, or if they are really happy with the nice three bedroom semi they already have called Anderson. The ball really is in the club’s court. Then you must always remember that there could be a Rod, Jane or Freddie round the corner, always ready to gazump you out of the picture, who then stick their horrible net curtains up in the windows that should have been yours.
I think it’s almost impossible for fans to determine footballing value. In a world dominated by Football Manager players and the cult of online FIFA 12, it’s easy to ignore the detail and only consider the bare bones. And the bare bones are that Pogba is greedy. Well, congratulations! Most footballers are. Even the lads strutting around at Bolton get paid millionaires wages. Even Ravel Morrison got paid a small fortune to go and play for the team that won the 1966 World Cup or whoever they think they are. Pogba’s agent is going to ‘go in high’, leak every move to the press, and butter up a whole loaf of lies to feed the world about where his client is going. Juventus? Juventus!?? Yes, any player with ambition would join Juve over Manchester United. However, in a game that doesn’t do sarcasm that well, a dirty great big wage packet will get Mr Pogba to Serie A with ease. It’s the nature of the beast.
The fact is that if United do not value Pogba at his desired wage then we have to bin the lad. For years United have told us he is the real deal, that he is a future midfield colossus, that we are getting a solid gold teenager. I’m sure they’ve even told Pogba that themselves. The lad probably believes the hype. So when he wants an inflated wage we should hardly be surprised. In a world where Wayne Rooney can one day ask for a transfer because he is dissatisfied, and the next day decide he will happily sign a huge new contract, nothing surprises or shocks me anymore.
My take on this? I’d pay Pogba the wage. This is not a guessing game. We know the lad has quality. Fergie is the only one who can tell you why he hasn’t blooded him yet, but if he is to be a star of the future, there is no wondering why his agent is trying to negotiate at such a level. Pogba could very much be at Cleverley’s level in six months time in terms of position in the squad. It’s all very romantic to say ‘make him earn the money first!’ and ’get him in the side and give him an incentive’. Sorry. Football isn’t like that any more. Traditionalists will be shocked by the money being bandied around the young Frenchman but this is the modern game. The club are not being held to ransom. Ask yourself, if another club pays him what he wants are they being held to ransom? Value is in the eye of the beholder.
Ultimately, the worst case scenario is that young Pogba goes to Italy and grows into the player most think he will become. There on, he is sold for a huge fee by his club and ends up at a Barcelona or a Madrid or, God forbid, a Manchester City, where he becomes a cult hero and wins trophies like the way it likes to rain. And as United fans we will be able to say: “we helped create that lad”, just as we stick the ‘for sale’ sign up outside that three bedroom semi.
Who has the glass slipper for Princess Pogba’s foot? Let’s hope it’s us. God knows we could do with a midfield blushing bride.