Why Juventus Are Looking into a Surprise Return Transfer for Paul Pogba

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJune 11, 2019

From left, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala ManU midfielder Paul Pogba and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic react after Juventus defender Alex Sandro scored an own goal during the Champions League group H soccer match between Juventus and Manchester United at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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If Paul Pogba makes a return to Juventus this summer, we may have to start calling him the "Yoyo."

He started his professional career at Manchester United, then moved to the Bianconeri in 2012. It was while in Turin that be became a superstar and convinced United to take him back to English football in a deal worth £89.3 million in 2016.

Now Juve are back on his trail, and the possibility of a return to Italy cannot be ruled out.

A report in Corriere dello Sport (h/t Football Italia) on Monday claimed an agreement has been reached for Pogba to make the switch this summer, with Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici meeting him after France's 2-0 defeat to Turkey over the weekend.  

Bleacher Report sources insist a deal is not quite so far advanced. However, the interest is genuine, and Pogba is open to leaving Manchester United.

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Paul Pogba is reportedly open to a #Juventus return, but they must sell Joao Cancelo, Douglas Costa, Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Mattia Perin https://t.co/tQ7F6phCof #MUFC #RealMadrid #PSG https://t.co/TGqc8NoEHm


The Current State of Play

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is on the verge of being announced as the new manager at Juventus, yet the interest in Pogba is pretty unrelated to that appointment.

Sources close to the situation told B/R that Juve have been open to a move for Pogba ever since being alerted to his discontent in Manchester earlier in the season, and they are merely turning up the heat as they receive messages that he could become attainable in this window.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is also being kept in the loop over Pogba's situation at Old Trafford, and word from insiders is that it would cost at least £140 million to prise him away.

That's the figure being put on his head by those inside Old Trafford—where senior figures believe his value has been enhanced thanks to the fact he is now a World Cup winner.

On top of his obvious ability, Madrid's interest is driven by the fact they are beginning to look at ways to prepare for the Toni Kroos-Luka Modric midfield partnership winding down. And president Florentino Perez realises a serious statement has to be made to bring the team forward from last season's disappointments, where they finished a distant third in La Liga and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the round-of-16 stage.


So Why Do Juve Want Him?

They too have big plans to improve on last term, particularly after being knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Juventus invested in Cristiano Ronaldo to win Europe's elite competition but felt the weight of an overburdened midfield on too many occasions.

There is a feeling that Miralem Pjanic needs help on the biggest stage. At times he was overwhelmed in Max Allegri's system, which would often lead to him having to stop counter-attacks on his own when the side's plan to cross the ball towards Cristiano Ronaldo and/or Mario Mandzukic wasn't effective.

Juve insiders also believe the club want to add a player with improved strength, as well as a big character inside the dressing room.

On top of this, there is the commercial element that comes with Pogba. His jersey is among the highest-selling in world football, and as a poster boy he would bring an extra dimension to the club's marketing team that very few players can top.

United know all of this themselves, of course—and that is why they are not going to make it easy for Pogba to leave. The official line remains that he is not for sale. And given they are already preparing exits for Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan are expected to bid soon), Alexis Sanchez (open to all offers) and, possibly, David De Gea (to Real Madrid or PSG)—to lose four such huge names seems pretty inconceivable.

Juve and Madrid have both been given signals that Pogba himself may push to leave United if the right offer comes along, however.

GENOA, ITALY - JANUARY 10:  Paul Pogba of Juventus FC celebrates a victory at the end of the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and Juventus FC at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on January 10, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images


What Are the Challenges?

Being involved in a transfer battle with Real Madrid is never a nice place to be. Zinedine Zidane believes he can unlock the "complete Pogba" if he moves to the Santiago Bernabeu, and it would take some fantastic persuasion from Italy to convince the midfielder that Sarri will have the same impact.

There is a feeling among those close to the player that he would choose Madrid over Juventus, given a straight choice. But Juve are helped by the fact Madrid need to start selling players, having just spent a substantial amount on Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic, and are also closing in on Lyon's £50 million-rated full-back Ferland Mendy.

Wages are going to be an issue for Juventus, though—despite the fact he would not be the highest-paid player at the club. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's megadeal means he is always going to be Serie A's top earner, as he picks up a basic wage of around £510,000 a week, according to salary database Capology.

According to Martin Lipton of The Sun, Pogba is looking to earn around £500,000 a week from his next contract, which would be a boost of around £200,000 a week on his current salary.

That's already more than double what forward Paulo Dybala collects in Turin.


Making the Deal Happen

A swap deal involving Dybala could be one way to sweeten a deal with United, who have had a long-term interest in the player and are likely to need a new option if Lukaku leaves.

Yet, it is thought Dybala is not keen on the idea of moving to England at this stage of his career—particularly to a club that is not in the Champions League next season.

The more straightforward option is to sell players. Tuttosport (h/t Calciomercato) reported close to £100 million could be raised from the sales of frontman Mario Mandzukic, full-back Joao Cancelo, winger Juan Cuadrado and goalkeeper Mattia Perin

While Manchester United are against the idea of any Pogba transfer, there is a realisation that the player has had his head turned by a potential move to Madrid or Juventus—two clubs who will be battling for league titles and the Champions League next season.

A new contract at United is not out of the question as the figures of power at Old Trafford hope to tie him down for at least one more season, in a bid to see the France international at his best.

But if that £140 million valuation can be met, then Pogba could yet make the biggest move of 2019.


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