For much of the summer, Manchester United and Real Madrid were embroiled in a race to sign Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman had the choice between the European Champions, managed his compatriot, Zinedine Zidane or a side that hadn’t challenged for the league title for the previous three seasons and had no European football to look forward to.
There was only one winner, surely, especially when you consider that the Red Devils had allowed him to leave at the end of his contract just four years previously.
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Remarkably, though, it was United that smashed the world record transfer fee to sign Pogba for a massive £89 million with him set to make his second debut for the club in tonight’s fixture against Southampton.
But how did they beat Madrid to Pogba’s signature?
Well, Guillem Balague thinks he knows exactly how Jose Mourinho’s side beat off Los Blancos to sign the 23-year-old - and it certainly wasn’t for a want of trying on the Spanish side’s behalf.
“Let’s not mince our words here; Real Madrid wanted Paul Pogba to join them from Juventus so much, it almost hurt,” he wrote in his Yahoo article.
“In the end, they were blown out of the water by a Manchester United side prepared to offer so much more at every level of the negotiation, a club who trumped them every step of the way.
“The sniffy stance taken by Real Madrid that this was ‘crazy’ money and something they were going to walk away from suggests that what we have here is a club and a President that has never done deals that involved ‘crazy’ money. Stuff and nonsense. The fact is they couldn’t compete with United. Period.
“Little wonder that Zinedine Zidane is talking up the return of Alvaro Morata – who quite honestly would probably pay to play for the club – and Marco Asensio, back from a loan spell at Espanyol.”
Couldn't afford him
So, it certainly wasn’t down to the fact Madrid didn’t want to pay the money for Pogba, they simply couldn’t.
That lack of money available has been highlighted with Madrid signing very few players this summer. Former Madrid player Alvaro Morata is the only senior player to have arrived at the Bernabeu for £23 million while they’ve failed to make any further additions.
We’ll never know whether Pogba would have joined Madrid over United if they actually stumped up the money required to sign him.