Paul Pogba’s time at Man United is almost up, but can he start with the Champions League legacy?

Paul Pogba will have cost Manchester United 179.6 million pounds in transfer fees and salaries before his contract with Old Trafford expires at the end of June. He now has less than six months to offer some sort of value for money by helping his adrift club save something tangible in the Premier League or Champions League from their grim season.

When analyzing the financial blow of Pogba’s stint at United since returning to the club from Juventus on a world record contract of £ 89.1 million in 2016, there are no positive numbers.

The French midfielder’s 213 first-team appearances cost £ 84,319.25 per game and his 38 goals were scored at a rather hefty price tag of £ 4,726,315.79 each. And the two main trophies Pogba helped United win over nearly six years at the club – the Carabao Cup and the Europa League in 2017 – come in at £ 89.8m each.

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Had the 28-year-old contributed to a Premier League title or Champions League triumph, the huge financial outlay on his dues and the £ 290,000-a-week salary might have been worth it. But as time passes over the final months of his time at United before he is expected to leave as a free agent in the summer, it’s impossible to suggest the move paid off for the club or player, unless you want to consider in the push. to social media followers from both sides during their time together.

Although Pogba was not the transformative signing United had expected and needed it to be when he arrived at the club shortly after Jose Mourinho’s appointment as manager in the summer of 2016, his failure is by no means due to his own shortcomings. and inconsistent performance. United disappointed Pogba, however much he can argue that he failed to deliver for them.

When he signed again six years ago, four years after initially leaving Old Trafford for Juventus for little more than a £ 800,000 compensation fee to cover his years of development at United, then 23-year-old Pogba had the vision of leading the team returns to the top of the game, with success in England and Europe quickly returning to the Premier League’s biggest and most successful club. Clearly it hasn’t happened, but since 2016 United have hardly built a team around Pogba capable of winning the biggest accolades.

The only two defensive midfielders the club has signed since Pogba’s arrival have been Nemanja Matic and Fred. And in terms of attacking midfielder, they only added Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek. Fernandes has been a big hit since signing £ 56.7m from Sporting CP in January 2020, but Matic, Fred and Van de Beek would have been seen as team fillers in most United rivals and certainly not quality. required player to take a team to the next level.

Around the same time Liverpool added Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara to their midfield while Manchester City signed Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Rodri and Jack Grealish as well as elevating Phil Foden to the first team. Compare these additions to those of United and it’s easy to see a large quality gap between the new faces of Anfield and Etihad versus those of Old Trafford.

Had Pogba been surrounded by players of similar skill, the last six years could have been very different for both United and Pogba, but the reality has been that the team has stood still – many could even argue that it has regressed. This left Pogba afloat, producing a strange moment of brilliance but largely a disappointment. United disappointed him by failing to sign the kind of players Pogba is surrounded by when playing for World Cup-winning France, but sometimes a great player like Pogba has to be the driving force on the pitch that brings those around him to levels. taller and his inability to do so was his own fault.

From now until the end of the season, Pogba has played 16 Premier League games – starting with Burnley on Tuesday – and potentially seven Champions League games to be the player United expected him to be in 2016 and become the talisman who can inspire Ralf. Rangnick’s side finish in the top four or, as unlikely as it may seem, Champions League glory.

Injuries have seen Pogba miss 84 United games since 2016. His return from a 10-week absence due to a hamstring problem in Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round defeat to on ESPN + in the US) showed why Pogba can be such an important player for United when he’s fit and available. Losing penalties eventually made headlines, but Pogba’s 82 minutes on the pitch were positive as he won a penalty (missed by Cristiano Ronaldo) and gave United the technical prowess in the middle of the pitch that no other player at Old Trafford can deliver.

Pogba can connect the game, he is able to carry the ball from defense to attack, and his creativity in the offensive third of the field makes the team a more powerful force. In Premier League appearances with United alone, he has provided more assists than goals (36/28) in his 143 league games since returning in 2016. But unless he can produce a footballing miracle by inspiring United to success in the Champions League this season, they face Atletico Madrid in this month’s round of 16: Pogba’s time at Old Trafford will no doubt be considered a huge disappointment.

He can’t escape that reality, and the least fans should expect is for Pogba to finish on a high note, even if it only means helping United qualify for next season’s Champions League; it is a challenge that should give everything to win.