Valencia inflicted the first defeat of Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge of Real Madrid by beating Los Blancos 2-1 in La Liga on Wednesday night.
Goals from Goncalo Guedes and Ezequiel Garay gave Los Che all three points at the Mestalla and moved them up to fifth. Meanwhile, the gap between Real, who got a stoppage-time consolation goal from Karim Benzema, and leaders Barcelona is now 13 points.
Tame Performance Proves Real Need Paul Pogba
If Zinedine Zidane needs one compelling reason to convince Real president Florentino Perez to spend big on Paul Pogba this summer, he should just show him the midfield performance in Valencia.
Words like tame and clueless apply perfectly to what Real produced in the middle of the park at the Mestalla. Rarely has the ideally balanced trio of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos lacked ideas on this scale.
Watching them be bossed by Valencia's central pairing, it was hard to believe this was the same trio as important to Real's hat-trick of UEFA Champions League wins as Cristiano Ronaldo's goals.
It was no surprise when Kroos was withdrawn on the hour mark. The early exit summed up the lethargy gripping Los Blancos in central areas.
Fortunately, there's a simple solution for Zidane. He just needs to sign the United playmaker he's already enamoured with.
Zidane's chances look good, especially since Pogba is said to have an agreement with agent Mino Raiola over securing a transfer to Spain, per Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror.
Pogba would add the drive and flair sorely missing from Real's engine room this season. He's been showcasing those qualities since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as United manager back in December.
Those numbers put Modric and Kroos, who have combined for a mere four goals and 10 assists across all competitions so far this season, to shame.
Unfortunately, Pogba's form has reverted to Mourinho-era standards since rumours of a move to the Spanish capital have gathered pace. The 26-year-old has struggled recently, particularly during Tuesday's 2-1 defeat away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pogba is still searching for consistency, but he has the attributes Real need.
He's more physically imposing than 29-year-old Kroos, yet able to match the Germany international's shooting power and scoring touch. The World Cup winner also has an eye for a pass to rival the vision of Modric, 33.
With his two chief creators ageing and losing their influence and effectiveness, revamping midfield is as important as finally finding a Ronaldo replacement. Pogba is the obvious and ideal choice.
Real host Eibar on Saturday, the same day Valencia travel to Rayo Vallecano.