Chelsea began pre-season training this week despite the absence of many of their World Cup stars. New signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa will join up with the squad in the coming weeks, but there are rumours of another big signing on the cards.
According to multiple reports, as per Rob Shepherd of the Daily Mail, Chelsea are in hot pursuit of ex-Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba. Juventus have slapped a £60 million price tag on the 21-year-old Frenchman in the hope of deterring any serious offers, but the Blues will not be put off.
Rumours of an imminent deal intensified this week when Pogba was spotted shopping in Knightsbridge, an exclusive area of west London close to Stamford Bridge. Ashley Clements from the Daily Mail added that to the fact that Pogba was snapped adding himself to the Chelsea starting XI on Football Manager, and a story was born.
The same report also suggests that Javier Pastore would be Jose Mourinho’s second choice should a deal for Pogba fail to materialise. The Argentine international is valued at around £25 million by Paris Saint-Germain and was a second-half substitute in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against the Blues. He scored the third goal in Paris but was unable to make the same impact as the Parisians were knocked out on away goals at Stamford Bridge.
While Pastore’s price tag is less than half that of Pogba, whether he would bring the same value is a big question.
Per the Squawka comparison matrix, Pogba created almost twice as many chances as Pastore last season, with 48 to 29. He also scored seven Serie A goals to Pastore’s one Ligue 1 goal and made an average 1.75 tackles per game to Pastore’s 1.03. Even the statistics that appear to favour Pastore are marginal, with his passing accuracy at 85 percent versus Pogba’s 84 and a shot accuracy of 50 percent to the Frenchman’s 49.
A sum of £60 million is a significant chunk of the Blues’ budget, and it would necessitate the sale of a few fringe players, but that should not stop them from pursuing Pogba.
He fulfils the all-round midfielder role that Chelsea are desperately looking for, and his youth adds more value to his fee. After all, how many times have you bought a better-than-half-price deal and ended up wishing that you’d spent a bit more on the superior product?