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Opinion: Can Man United afford to let go of Paul Pogba?

Paul Pogba could leave Manchester United. (GETTY Images)
Paul Pogba could leave Manchester United. (GETTY Images)

Manchester United broke the bank for Paul Pogba back in the summer of 2016. After letting the player leave from youth academy 2012, they signed him 4 years later for a record £89million fee.

A fee of this magnitude carries with it some massive expectations, and Pogba would have known that.

In light of that, a lot of what he achieved came to be ‘expected’ for a player commanding that fee. And what he couldn’t achieve was overly scrutinized because he cost United a fortune.

Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United in 2016.
Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United in 2016.

Pogba has made 192 appearances for the club since arriving in 2016. But nothing good lasts forever, and that may be the case with the Frenchman.

Paul Pogba could be on his way out, but will it affect Manchester United?

The 27-year-old has been linked with an exit from Manchester United. A report by The Sun mentions that Pogba could be on his way out in the summer, with the Red Devils demanding a £100million fee. This comes after his agent admitted earlier this season that the player wanted to leave United.

The question is, can United afford to lose him for that amount? After all, the quoted sum for him is higher than what Manchester United spent to bring him back to Old Trafford. We look at results from this season to understand if his departure could impact this current United team.

Surprisingly, United are unbeaten in all the 8 games that he has not played in so far. The club have won 7 and drawn 1 during that time. Their attacking and defensive stats during that time are also better without him in the team. Let us look at the 5 games he has missed in the Premier League so far.

Paul Pogba was signed from Juventus.
Paul Pogba was signed from Juventus.

In the 5 matches without him, Man United conceded just 5 goals. That is lower than their average of 1.29 goals conceded per game in the league this season so far.

Also, in those 5 games, United scored a staggering 20 league goals at an average of 4 goals per game. Once again, this is higher than their Premier League average of 2.08 goals per game. The sample size is not the biggest, but statistics do indicate that United have been performing better without him on the field. (h/t transfermarkt)

Another interesting aspect is how Bruno Fernandes plays without him. The Portuguese playmaker joined United in January 2020 and has since racked up impressive numbers for the club.

A recent article by Manchester Evening News portrayed how Fernandes is more involved in the attack without Pogba in the team. Without the Frenchman, Fernandes plays as a No.10, with Fred, McTominay or Matic forming a defensive pairing in the midfield.

Paul Pogba is a regular in the Manchester United line-up. (GETTY Images)
Paul Pogba is a regular in the Manchester United line-up. (GETTY Images)

Fernandes averages around 4.8 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes with Pogba, as compared to 6 per 90 minutes without him. He is also averaging 76.7 touches per 90 minutes when deployed with the Frenchman compared to 95.9 per 90 minutes when he’s without him.

And the former Sporting CP man has 31 goals and 20 assists in 57 games for United so far. Hence, it cannot be doubted that he is the creative fulcrum of the team. Therefore, if he is performing better without Pogba, why not keep going with it?

Are United prepared for his exit?

It seems as if United are already finding it tough to find where he fits in the team. He has started a significant number of games this season as a left-midfielder. This is not the position most closely associated with him. (h/t Transfermarkt)

Pogba is a combative, box-to-box midfielder who usually plays centrally in midfield. He did so at Juventus, does so for the France national team, and did it at United before the start of this season. Fred, Scott McTominay, and Nemanja Matic have all featured in central midfield for United this season, a position where Pogba plays.

It is also obvious that playing Pogba on the left-hand side means a natural winger or forward is taken out of that position. Safe to say that it’s not the wisest option.

Manchester United should not suffer if Paul Pogba departs.
Manchester United should not suffer if Paul Pogba departs.

The club also brought in Donny van de Beek last summer, who has struggled to get games this season. So if the Frenchman was to leave, United do not have a shortage of midfielders on paper to replace him.

Verdict

Pogba is one of the biggest names at United, and yes, he continues to be one of the first names on the team sheets but if the situation arises that he has to leave United, then the club should not be worried too much.

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The current United side seems to be doing just fine. And the Red Devils would not let him go for cheap. Hence, any incoming transfer fee can also be redirected towards signing a replacement.

Moreover, the aforementioned facts from this season would also put United fans at ease considering any fan base would be worried about a star player leaving the club.

Written by Aniket Rai

An ordinary football fan, doing what he loves.

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