Paul Pogba has been a revelation since joining Juventus, going from being a peripheral figure at Manchester United to two-time Serie A champion and a member of the France World Cup squad. His rise has been incredible to witness, and there is every chance he could mature into one of the best midfielders on the planet.
At just 21, the Lagny-sur-Marne native has excelled in Turin, despite still having started just 70 professional matches, according to stats site WhoScored.com. Last term, he featured in all but two of Juve’s league games, notching seven goals and the same number of assists, per the same source.
He has blossomed into one of the finest prospects in Europe, coveted by a number of clubs despite his agent insisting he is going nowhere. “Everything is perfect at Juventus and no meetings are planned,” Mino Raiola told TuttoSport (h/t Yahoo Sport) when asked about interest from Chelsea earlier this month.
In that same interview, he also said that Pogba moving was “just fantasy football,” but what if that became reality, what if Juventus decided to cash in on the talented midfielder? While sacrificing Arturo Vidal makes little sense—a theory expanded upon here—an argument for selling Pogba now can be rationalised far more easily.
There would be no shortage of deep-pocketed suitors, with Paris Saint-Germain, per Le Parisien (via Stefan Coerts of Goal.com), and his former employers at Old Trafford, per Matt Dickenson, Gary Jacob and George Caulkin of The Times (subscription required), joining Chelsea in being strongly linked with a move for Pogba.
Where Vidal embodies everything positive about this Juventus and is clearly the club’s best player, his midfield colleague can—and often is—ably replaced by the likes of Claudio Marchisio. The latter lost his place to the young Frenchman, but his statistical output rivals Pogba’s reasonably well.
Looking at WhoScored once again, they completed an almost identical number of tackles, Pogba averaging 2.3 to Marchisio’s 2.2 per game. The latter held the edge in interceptions—1.4 per appearance to 1.0—whilst passing more accurately to complete 86.7 per cent to Pogba’s 83.8.
With the Bianconeri looking to win now, as well as in the future, Marchisio is able to carry the load in the present despite his team-mate possessing a much higher ceiling in the future. A sale for the sums discussed would allow Juventus to add other pieces, too, finally handing La Madama the resources to compete with Europe’s greatest clubs.
Seeing the likes of Real Madrid win the Champions League, then adding Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to their squad leaves others trailing in their wake. Moves for two of the World Cup’s finest players that Juventus have missed out on in Alexis Sanchez and Juan Manuel Iturbe highlights just how great the gap has become.
Their last two Champions League campaigns have also shown Juve to still be somewhat short when matched against the elite teams, lacking the weapons to unlock the finest defences. Having the money from a potential Pogba sale would allow the Bianconeri to contest for the signature of these players more keenly, adding genuine star quality to an already talented squad.
Alvaro Morata is a step in the right direction, but others such as Xherdan Shaqiri would allow Juventus to make the necessary leap to join those truly giant clubs once again. The Bayern Munich forward discussed a possible move with TuttoSport earlier this week (h/t Football Italia), but the money is likely to once again be the stumbling block.
Selling Pogba before he is the finished product may sound sacrilegious to supporters of the club, but sacrificing a major talent is not new territory for the club. The reigning Italian champions sold both Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane when the team belonged to Alessandro Del Piero, a similar scenario to cashing in on the French youngster when Vidal is the star of the show.
It might hurt, it might seem like a mistake, but if the money was reinvested properly, selling Paul Pogba could actually improve Juventus.