Juventus and Paul Pogba still haven't been able to come to an agreement regarding a new and improved contract, and with explosive agent Mino Raiola involved, the door remains open for a potential Chelsea transfer swoop.
The French midfielder was recently asked about the future of teammate Arturo Vidal, who is the subject of strong interest from Manchester United, and he took the opportunity to explain he wants to focus on football, not his own future. As reported by the Daily Express' Anthony Chapman, he said:
Of course (we want Vidal at Juventus), I hope he will stay. He's injured at the moment and he's trying to get fit. We want him to stay at Juventus. For the moment he is here so we won't speak about him leaving.
I'm just focused on the pitch and on Juventus and doing great things on the pitch. I haven't spoken to any manager or with anyone about my contract so for me I'm just staying focused and training hard.
Pogba's contract saga dominated the Turin headlines last season, as the young Frenchman is (understandably) looking for an improved deal compared to the one he signed with the club as a free agent years ago.
The 21-year-old has gone from a promising asset in Manchester United's youth setup to a budding superstar for Juventus, and he is widely regarded as a potential future Ballon d'Or winner.
Even at his young age, he's already one of the most complete central midfielders in the world. He's big and strong enough to dominate opponents on the ball, has a nearly flawless technique, is an excellent distributor and has developed a knack for scoring long-range goals.
Juventus don't want to lose their most prized asset, particularly given the uncertainty regarding the future of midfield partner Vidal. But so far, it has proven difficult for the two parties to come together and agree on a long-term deal.
The Bianconeri are financially healthy, but they don't have the means to give such a young player the kind of contract some of the richest clubs in the world would be willing to offer.
And then there's the Raiola factor. Pogba's agent is one of the most well-known agents in football, and for good reason. The Italian has a reputation as a fierce negotiator not afraid to move his clients around. He represents some of the most travelled players in the world, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Raiola is a master at putting pressure on managers and club directors, and he was at it again during an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, via Sky Sports' Nadia Carminati:
I’ve not spoken yet with (sporting director Giuseppe) Marotta and I’ve no plans to meet him in the near future. Anything is possible for Paul. He could remain at Juve without renewing his contract as he is committed until 2016. It is also possible that he could decide to sign an extension before the start of the new Italian season.
Such statements are vintage Raiola—without actually saying anything about a potential move, he's informing everyone his client wouldn't be afraid to walk away at the end of his current deal.
Raiola doesn't bluff, and the fact Juventus and Pogba aren't currently talking about a new deal should worry fans of the Bianconeri. As long as the youngster doesn't commit his future to the club, big-money teams like Chelsea will remain a threat to make a move.
The Blues have enjoyed a phenomenal summer transfer window that was dominated by smart signings. They've focused on younger talent in the last two seasons, and Pogba would fit the club's new philosophy of young super-talents like a glove.
Chelsea don't have a need for another central midfielder, but top clubs will never say no to world-class talent. They're one of the clubs most often linked with Pogba, simply because they have the finances necessary to make a deal and the intelligent management to understand why a deal would be beneficial.
Does that mean the Blues will move for Pogba in 2014? It doesn't have to, but as long as the youngster's contract situation stays as it is, Chelsea will present a threat to his Juventus future.
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