Paul Pogba Situation Undermines Club on Eve of Huge Match

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It’s definitely for the best that Paul Pogba and Manchester United part ways, and hopefully, the club can get a decent return on their huge investment that mostly failed. It’s certainly not a fresh take at all, saying that the Frenchman and his youth system club should separate.

Many pundits have expressed this position, and we wrote as much back in February. The situation has been a roller coaster over the years, but Monday saw it take on a new level of ridicousless, when the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, intentionally undermined the club on the eve of a massive match.

Speaking to Tuttosport in Italy, Raiola straight-forwardly and bluntly said: “I can say that it’s over for Paul Pogba at Manchester United.”

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This is not surprising, by any stretch, as Pogba’s friend and former Juventus teammate, Patrice Evra said this past weekend that the midfielder tried to leave this summer. Pogba himself just said, while on international break a couple weeks ago, how much happier he is at France than at United.

However, this isn’t really the time for this kind of discussion and narrative, as United face a must win tomorrow in the UEFA Champions League, a tricky fixture at RB Leipzig. Yes, the most expensive player in club history and the sixth best paid player in the world is entering the 18 months to go portion of his current contract.

It’s a major timeline as it’s the last chance for a club to really get any value on a player’s contract, and it’s essentially the buy, sell or hold threshhold for all involved and potentially involved. So it’s a crucial time, but this nonsense totally undermines the team by completely shifting the focus to one individual, at a time when they must come together as a team.

Not that Raiola undermining the club and the manager is anything new by any means. The Manchester Evening News’ main football writer tells it like it is:

Raiola has also undermined the club on a second level as now anyone bidding for Pogba has a huge advantage over United- they know the club MUST sell now.

And ESPN’s Manchester correspondent is spot on about the status quo and the way forward:

Pogba has suffered through a very rough season. He suffered a serious ankle injury, contracted COVID-19 and found himself limited to substitute minutes for most of the term. He had his first start in about a month on Saturday, and he put in an uneven performance.

He was dreadful in the first half, but opened the scoring in the second, which ultimately inspired the come back.

In an interview with in house channel MUTV on Sunday he opened up on his battle with COVID. Hearing about his struggles with breathing and fatigue makes him a rather sympathetic figure: “Even in training, I would say to the fitness coach that I feel strange. It’s not me. I get tired very fast and I’m out of breath really fast.”

“The first game of the season, I couldn’t run. I was trying. I spoke with the manager, ‘I will start the game and let’s see,’ but I was very out of breath and it took me a long time to get back to my fitness and to get back physically good.”

However, at the same time, he also made remarks that ring extemely hollow, and fly in the face of the actions taken by his agent, on his behalf.

“It’s good to get back in the team, and to score this goal to help the team get back in the game, it’s very important for the team, I’m very happy for that,” Pogba said.

“That’s what I think is good for the team. I’m a team player. As long as the team wins, that’s the most important, you know? That’s why I came here and that’s why I want to be successful.”

paul pogba antoine griezmann

Pogba espousing the ideals of team first, playing for the badge, and not for himself comes off as hypocritical. For those remarks to have any meaning, he’d have to immediately and strongly publicly renounce the words and actions of Raiola and that’s not going to happen.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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