"Paul Pogba signed for Juventus a long time ago as far as we're aware. Which is disappointing."
Disappointing has turned out to be quite the understatement from former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scotsman was speaking to MUTV in 2012 when he confirmed the exciting midfielder had decided to swap Old Trafford for the Old Lady in search of first team football.
In the same interview, Ferguson also spoke about another 19-year-old out of contract in the summer – Zeki Fryers. He would also depart on a free but to Standard Liege. Both were highly rated at the time but now one is a squad player for Rotherham United and the other is fast becoming the world's most coveted player.
Continuing with Ferguson's words on Pogba, he said: "I don’t think he showed us any respect at all. To be honest, if they carry on that way, I’m quite happy that he’s away from me anyway.”
Ferguson's greatest disservice
You will be hard pressed to find anyone in either the Old Trafford dugout, boardroom or stands, that agrees with the legendary figure. There are few things Ferguson can be criticised for during his 27 year spell as manager of the Red Devils but allowing Pogba to leave over a stubborn argument is proving to be his greatest disservice.
The teenager was played off as an arrogant money-grabbing prima donna when he left Manchester United. He went to Juventus for the money, they said; to get first team football he wasn't ready for. It has not taken long for him to prove those critics wrong.
Less than 36 months down the line and there is already talk of the midfielder becoming the first £100 million player. Still just 21-years-old, he is already well ahead of the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini.
At the same age, Zidane was still at Bordeaux and yet to break into France's senior international squad. Similarly, Platini had yet to emerge onto the global scene despite having a handful of international caps. He wouldn't join his first major club until he was 27-years-old.
Pogba returned home from last summer's World Cup with the best young player award and a new nickname - Pogiba. That added to his 2013 Golden Boy award, given to the best under-21 player in Europe and the Bravo award, given to the best Under-23 player in Europe.
Charisma and ability
His performances off the pitch coupled with all the charisma of a champion racehorse means it is not just the footballing world lying at his feet, but the commercial world as well.
The go faster stripes attached to the side of his head, the wondrous skills and thunderous goals. He has the steely determination of Zidane but all the personality of Mario Balotelli. An exemplary figure seemingly worth exponentially more with every passing season.
Ferguson would have no doubt expected Pogba to follow a path similar to Balotelli, where off field antics become more famous than what you do on it. When reports surfaced of him turning up later for Juventus training surfaced, that suspicion appeared justified.
It turned out to be the exception rather than the norm. Being around the influential Andrea Pirlo in midfield and gifted a place in the first team since day one has supercharged his progress.
“People compare us but, where I would win more tackles, Paul is more technically gifted than I ever was, and far more at ease on the ball.” - Patrick Vieira
Pressure is supposed to be the most detrimental factor to a young player, at least if you're English. No where has the pressure been greater than on Pogba's shoulders, yet he takes it with as much comfort as Adonis takes the world.
There are no corners cut when it comes to his preparation either. From the age of 16 he employed his own physiotherapist, the benefits of which have proven to be massive. The midfielder has yet to suffer a significant injury in his career. The physio is joined by an expert dietician, who would already know how his body works and wouldn't retain that information when he finally leaves for one of Europe's bigger clubs.
It is this meticulous preparation that hints at a greater desire to succeed than the norm. For one so young to realise the importance of looking after your body showed an exceptional amount of maturity and pragmatism.
Money doesn't talk
While his move from Manchester United was originally played off as a financially-motivated move, its now become apparent that Pogba was only after one thing: first team football. He earned just £23,000-a-week until October, when he agreed a new contract, which now sees him take home £70,000-a-week – hardly the ceiling when it comes to wages in football.
The money will come to him regardless, but Pogba seemed to seek simply what he thought was due, a pay rise. Committing to a Juventus team littered with experience where Champions League football is a virtual guarantee every season and the media spotlight is not so intense as England or Spain has also proven to be a masterstroke.
These sensible decisions have supercharged his development. He has already reached a world-class level with his potential reaching into the stratosphere. He is being courted by the biggest clubs as a result. According to his agent, the move is likely to break the transfer record currently held by Gareth Bale.
The inevitable transfer
Agent Mino Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport: "If Paul leaves Juventus, it is for the absolute top. If it does not happen this year, it will be next year.
"If someone wants him, the market situation could see him go for more than 100m euros."
It would be a huge amount to play for something so fragile as a human. A ruptured ligament could render him useless tomorrow, but Pogba is fast emerging as the next best thing after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
For Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester United, a £100 million investment in Pogba is a risk worth taking. If his career trajectory continues in the same vein, that £100 million would be earned back in the same number of years as you can count on one hand. For those who can afford to pay, it could prove to be a bargain.
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