We’re hours past Manchester United’s announcement of Erik ten Hag as the Red Devils' next manager. Not the most surprising news out there, of course, as the Dutchman was discussed earlier this season before current interim caretaker Ralf Rangnick took the reins of the once-great Manchester club.
While ten Hag is going to become the no. 1 man in the organigram, Rangnick would like to stay in the organization with his name attached to an advisory role going forward—barring ten Hag’s decision to block that move and get rid of RR once he takes charge of the squad.
Judging by Ragnick’s latest assessments when asked about Manchester’s current estate of affairs, it’s very clear there will be a razor-sharp approach to the club’s situation from the interim manager. The opinions he shared with the media after Liverpool’s 4-0 trouncing of United a few days ago were insanely hot and certainly activated the alarm systems. You just don’t go around claiming the most famous team in England and worldwide is “three or four years” behind the likes of Pool and Man. City, or that “United could sign 10 new players this summer”.
In his most recent appearance in front of the media, Rangnick confirmed what was feared (or hoped for, by some) with regards to Paul Pogba’s heel injury sustained last Tuesday: the French international is about to miss the next four weeks of play (if not more) while recovering from his injury. In other words, Paul Pogba has probably played his last minutes donning United threads.
Could Pogba be about to flip one United for another, the latter based on Newcastle upon Tyne? We’ll see, but there is an open window of opportunity for the Magpies to land the decorated Frenchman once the transfer window opens next summer.
The 29-year-old Pogba is about to see his contract with Manchester United expired. He will become a free agent in a few weeks, opening a bidding war between clubs vying for his services. The New York Times’ Rory Smith wrote about how football transactions, markets, and fees are wildly changing of late in European football. The transfer-fee model of acquiring players is turning into one closer to that used by American leagues and franchises, with free agency becoming more prominently by the day and players grabbing the bull by the horns and making the most of the empowerment era, maximizing their earnings and making decisions about their workplaces strictly by themselves.
Pogba, old by sporting parameters but surely not a geezer, should still have some prolific years ahead of him entering his 30s no earlier than 2023. Manchester United’s fans will surely let you know about how Pogba is worth nothing and how they want him out of town as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean Pogba should be considered a football afterthought, mind you, just because of a delusional fanbase enraged by unfulfilled dreamy objectives.
Pogba is coming off a 2021 year in which he lifted the UEFA Nations League starting five of six games from the French national squad and a run through the UEFA Euro 2022 Round of 16 in which he started all four games played by France scoring one goal and assisting another.
The 2018 World Cup triumph might feel a bit distant these days—anything and everything pre-COVID surely does—but Pogba was just 25 years old back then when he aided France’s squad by manning the midfield with gusto on his way to conquering the most coveted piece of gold in world football.
Pogba is at least going to test the open-market waters and listen to suitors, and there will be suitors. If we—and most of all, he—are honest, there is a very slim chance Pogba ends up signing another mammoth deal valued at €17M+ per year (currently the 10th largest among Premier League players). It’s just not happening if only because the narrative around him wants it that way.
Newcastle United might be the richest club in the world. The Magpies might have been purchased by the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) consortium with a ridiculous €350M+ bid. The PIF might have assets worth €380+ billion. Yes, we talking billions here. All of that might be—it really is—real, but there is this little thing called Financial Fair Play (FFP) that has been around for a few years and limits wild spending efforts to prevent certain oil-led clubs to step over the line and stomp competitors into minions by sheer monetary strength.
There is a “legal loophole” still to be patched (though it sounds like a fix is coming soon) by FFP, though, when it comes to singings and transfers: wages aren’t quite as controlled as transfer sums. While teams cannot spend more than a certain percentage of money on new players based on their income through different sources of revenue, there is no sort of salary cap or luxury tax to be paid in place as of this day. It might be in the works but it’s not here yet. Pogba, if you didn’t pay attention to the paragraphs above, will be a free agent this summer available for the price of nothing more than a bulky salary. Thus, the opportunity for Newcastle to grab a WC champion while no fee goes the other way. Cold world, Manchester lads.
There is a wide range of opinions about Pogba, his current and future production, who might (Real Madrid and P.S.G. are popping up in the rumor mill) or might not (Juventus) be interested in adding him, and a lot more angles to consider and points of view making a list too long to compile here.
If we were discussing an actual offer having to be made for the Frenchman, well, that’d probably be a no-no proposition because even being a little bit devalued exiting the 2021-22 campaign, Manchester United would still ask for an eye to let the midfielder savant leave. But for just a tiny bite at the vast resources of the FIP managing Newcastle, by the way of paying Pogba—and Pogba alone—a nice salary for a couple of years? Well, things change quite a bit.
Pogba has turned 29 years of age less than two months ago and will play the 2022-23 season (most of it) at that very age, which is far from old. Newcastle features a still-establishing midfield trio under Eddie Howe that includes Jonjo Shelvey, Joelinton, and recently signed Bruno Guimaraes. Pogba is a tier above at least two of those three players and a year younger than Shelvey, whose own deal with Newcastle is expiring in the summer of 2023.
Adding Pogba to the squad shouldn’t be seen as anything even remotely close to taking a leap of faith on an unknown asset. Pogba is a proven and tested player, a bonafide winner, a floor-raiser, and he would become the second standout to arrive in St James’ Park after the Gordie Army welcomed Kieran Trippier earlier this year with the PIF having already taken over the club ownership.
Manchester United’s exceptionalism will lead you to believe Pogba is not worth investing in once he hits the open market next June. They will keep praising the likes of Scott McTominay and Donny Van de Beck as their future midfield building blocks under ten Hag, laughing at whoever dares offer Pogba a deal to bring him to a friendlier environment full of greener pastures. The toxicity of the Manchester Media and an angry fanbase killed every single possibility of Paul Pogba succeeding at the club that gave him his senior-football birth, lost him, and infamously brought him back only to drag him down. It’s time for a change and a fresh start elsewhere. Newcastle might be the place to offer Pogba the lead role he’s always wanted to have in the Rainy City but which sadly never went his way.
Let’s make an either-or, black-or-white question with just two possible answers. Should Newcastle make a run at Pogba?
Should Newcastle offer Paul Pogba a deal this summer?
You be the judge. We’re just a few weeks away from knowing the real answer.