Not too long now until the transfer window shuts for another summer, albeit the Premier League’s already closed earlier in August.
As is often the case, there were some surprise moves, 11th hour deals done and longed-for moves that didn’t materialise.
All three scenarios could still occur in the French, Spanish, German and Italian leagues, and the worry for England’s finest is that their star talents could be plundered weeks after the season has already started.
It’s been known since the end of the last campaign that Paul Pogba was the prime target for Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.
The French coach had made it clear that his countryman had to be signed at any cost, because he offered the mix of dynamism, creativity and goals that had been missing from that area of his squad for a while.
Pogba’s ambivalence has often upset Manchester United’s supporters who expect their players to be one hundred percent committed at all times, and their displeasure reached its nadir at the end of United’s final game of last season, a home loss against relegated Cardiff City.
After a low-key lap of honour, the French World Cup winner was berated and abused in a heated exchange before heading down the tunnel at Old Trafford, many thought for the last time.
For a variety of reasons, Pogba’s expected move to Los Blancos didn’t materialise at any point across the summer, and he lined up for the Red Devils in their opening day 4-0 win over Chelsea, a match in which he was imperious.
Those who might’ve thought that he’d turned the page and accepted a move away wasn’t going to happen were wrong. Via his agent, the player espoused a desire to go to the Santiago Bernabeu in the wake of that victory.
Cue more social media bile and hate towards him from United’s agitated fraternity.
United manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer is adamant that he won’t be allowing Pogba to go anywhere, but if an offer comes in for him between now and the beginning of September, he has to take it.
For a start, this whole scenario is overshadowing everything good that United are doing at the moment and the cliche that ‘no player is bigger than the club’ is perfectly apt at present.
Furthermore, the funds that United could generate from any sale, with Real Madrid being the most willing of buyers, could help them strengthen in other key areas.
Pogba’s heart hasn’t been at United for a while now, and keeping an unhappy player can only have a negative effect on those around him.
If there’s one thing that Solskjaer needs at this point, it is players that are all pulling in the same direction and not rowing against the tide.
From a playing point of view, the Frenchman has been turning it off and on when he feels like it, and that’s no good to a team that have aspirations to get back into the Champions League.
An argument that it might leave United a bit light isn’t without merit, but the positives to a move far outweigh the negatives, and the finances will put them in a great position to strengthen in January when most other clubs are generally quiet in the market.
It’s a shame that his return didn’t work out, but the time is right for Pogba to move on again.