It’s still hard to believe that Manchester United allowed Paul Pogba to leave the club for virtually nothing four years ago.
Sir Alex Ferguson surely should have done more to keep hold of the midfielder, who is about to become the most expensive footballer of all time as he prepares to return to Old Trafford.
Fergie made very few mistakes during his remarkable 26-year spell with the Red Devils, but letting go of Pogba has to rank as the worst.
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Pogba became disillusioned with his lack of first-team opportunities under Ferguson; being overlooked for a Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers, with the manager deploying right-back Rafael and winger Park Ji-Sung in central midfielder, was the final straw.
The Frenchman refused to sign a new contract with the English club - a club he admits he still ‘loves’ - and subsequently sealed a move to Juventus.
Ferdinand: Pogba said he wants to be the world's best
Rio Ferdinand always felt Pogba would become a top midfielder and asked his former teammate, back in 2012, why he was leaving United.
The ex-Red Devil, who now works as a pundit on BT Sport, has revealed what Pogba told him at the time in an interview with the Mirror.
“I speak to Paul. I know him,” Ferdinand commented. “For Paul it’s all about football. It’s not about money.
“The biggest things for me and my family [when I moved to United] was not the money. It was: ‘What’s Giggsy like? What’s Roy Keane like?’
“Paul’s like that. He loves football. It’s all about improving and being the best.
“When he left I asked him why and he said: ‘I want to be the best player in the world.’ He’s on the right track.”
Pogba will have huge pressure on his shoulders
Indeed, it wouldn’t be a shock if Pogba goes on to win the Ballon d’Or in the future, provided his career continues on its upwards trajectory.
However, Pogba must prove that he can handle the immense pressure of potentially becoming the first £100 million footballer in history.
The 23-year-old will be expected to hit the ground running; he will not be afforded the luxury of a settling-in period.
Ferdinand: Pogba will be judged on trophies United win
“It is big pressure, but my biggest pressure wasn’t on the football pitch at Old Trafford,” Ferdinand continued.
“My biggest pressure was on the training pitch with those players. It was walking into the dressing room knowing that they were thinking: ‘What does £30million get you then? Can he win us the league? Can he help be the bedrock of this team?’
“That’s the pressure that I felt most when I went into Manchester United, and putting that pressure on myself to write myself into the history of the club through success and winning trophies.”
He added: “When Pogba comes, it’s just going to be down to the pure black-and-white question of: Will he perform? Will Manchester United win trophies?
“That’s how you get judged? People said when I went there, ‘It’s too much money for a centre-half’.
“But then we won things and people now look back and say: ‘It wasn’t that expensive when you consider we won six Premier League trophies out of 12 years’.
“If Paul goes there for £100million, stays there and they win five out of 10 [Premier League] trophies, you’ll look back and say, ‘Well done, good business.
“The kid in a Juventus shirt produces magic moments, moments of high class, game-changing moments.
“For £100million, you want someone who’s going to develop into someone who can dictate a game, can win games on his own, can drag his team over the line.
“Can he develop into that player? Yes, I think he’s got the potential to do that. Is he worth £100million? I don’t know, is anyone worth £20million?
“I was cheap at that point! At £18million and then £30million, it’s relative.
“The money that Man United are bringing in now, commercially, allows them to spend that money.”
Will Paul Pogba flop or flourish at Old Trafford? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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