Manchester United legend Paul Scholes feels he may have been partly responsible for Paul Pogba’s decision to leave Old Trafford for Juventus in the summer of 2012.
Months earlier, Scholes stunned the football world by agreeing to come out of retirement for the second half of the 2011-12 campaign, a decision that subsequently limited the first-team opportunities of the hugely-talented Pogba.
The classy central midfielder, who has established his status as one of the world’s best players over the past three years, opted to leave Old Trafford for Juventus in search of regular first-team football and a better contract. But Scholes wonders if the situation would be different had he stayed retired that season.
Article continues below
“Would it have been any different if I had not come back for that last 18 months?” Scholes asked himself in his latest Independent column. “I think my return to the team, and the game time Paul got, was a small part of it.
“I should say that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to keep Paul. We all knew there was a very good player in the making.
Article continues below
“When I first retired in the summer of 2011, I spent the start of the next season working with Warren Joyce, the coach of the Under-21s. Paul was in that squad and the truth is that while he obviously had bags of potential, he was not really playing well enough in that period up to Christmas 2011 to warrant a place in the first-team squad on a permanent basis, let alone start games.
“Perhaps I was a small part of the problem for those five months we were both competing for a place.”
Scholes: United should *not* sign Pogba
Interestingly, Scholes does not believe Manchester United should re-sign Pogba, due to the astronomical fee it would take to sign the France international.
Reports on Thursday claimed French champions Paris Saint-Germain have agreed a £58 million fee for the 22-year-old - but the final sum of money, with signing-on fees and wages included, is likely to hit nine figures.
“As for United,” Scholes added, “I don’t feel they should go back to sign Pogba for the sums being talked about having lost him for the compensation payment.
“I understand that Chelsea did the same when they bought back Nemanja Matic from Benfica, but his fee was nothing like the numbers quoted for Pogba. It would feel wrong to me.”
Van Gaal will surely be tempted
However, with Manchester United possessing one of the biggest transfer budgets of any top European club this summer - there’s speculation they could even afford a £100 million deal for Gareth Bale if the Wales international decides he wants to leave the Bernabeu - Louis van Gaal might be tempted by the opportunity to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford.
At this moment in time it seems more likely Pogba will end up at either PSG, Real Madrid or Barcelona - with Manchester City an outside option should Yaya Toure leave the Etihad Stadium - but things can change rapidly in football.
Is Paul Scholes right? Should Manchester United forget about Paul Pogba? Have your say in the comments below!