Wednesday 29 January 2020

Kevin Palmer: Why Manchester United believe Paul Pogba is worth €110m

Paul Pogba is expected to announced as Manchester United player on Monday.
Paul Pogba is expected to announced as Manchester United player on Monday.
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

At last it is all over and the hype machine can be turned off - Paul Pogba is about to Manchester United player all over again.

Four years after he left Old Trafford for nothing following a contract dispute between his agent Mino Raiola and United manager Alex Ferguson, the French boy wonder has returned to his spiritual home for a mind blowing fee that has been the talk of football all summer.

How can United justify paying Juventus a massive £100m for a single player, shattering the world transfer record and making a huge statement of intent as new boss Jose Mourinho sets out on his mission to put the club back at the top.

With the deal now complete, the debate over the merits of the transfer is well underway, with these comments from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sparking a big reaction on social media.

“If you bring one player in for £100m and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney,” stated Klopp. “The day that this is football, I'm not in a job anymore, because the game is about playing together.

“If I spend money, it is because I am trying to build a team, a real team. Barcelona did it. You can win championships, you can win titles, but there is a manner in which you want it.”

What Klopp neglects when he offers opinions on United’s deal for Pogba is the logic being applied to the transfer among the powers that be at Old Trafford.

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In pure sporting terms alone, Pogba is not worth anything like the money United are spending on him and yet this deal has more to do with marketing potential, commercial spin-offs and potential income as it does about football decision making.

This is why it is becoming increasingly difficult for simple soccer lovers to comprehend this era of garish Premier League opulence and yet we need to open our eye to the full picture as the justification for the price tag is presented.

So instead of looking at top English football clubs as sporting franchises, we need to appreciate that they have become global businesses with agendas reaching way beyond the four corners of a soccer pitch.

United now have an incredible total of SIXTY EIGHT major sponsors around the world paying money into their pot on an annual basis, with their record breaking £750m ten-year deal with kit manufacturer Adidas just part of a business that can comfortably afford to pay £100m for one player.

So in the eye of United’s deal makers, Pogba is the kind of player they want to be associated with, whatever the cost.

In addition, his arrival lifts United’s status as a major player in the game after a few years of decline following the end of the Ferguson era, with their image boost a fraction of what they think this single player could bring to their mix.

Pogba’s 13m followers on his three social media accounts will be seen by as a fresh audience they can tap into, with Pogba’s image rights deal likely to give them access to his huge online supporter base.

United skipper Wayne Rooney and midfielder Juan Mata are among those who have used their social media accounts to promote movies in the last year and that is not because they are devoted fans of the X Men or Deadpool big screen epics.

No, they have taken part in promotions to boost United’s commercial deal with 20th Century Fox movies and we can expect to see similar cross promotions moving forward.

New signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was used as the poster boy for United’s new kit launches and we can expect the same kind of exposure for Pogba when he arrives.

Whether we like the way this is going or not, United are trailblazers in rebranding a sport that used to be the domain of the working class on and off the pitch, yet it has long since crossed over in the world of big business.

Has anyone enjoyed the teasing social media messages from Pogba, his boot manufactures and his hard to like agent in recent weeks? Did anyone really believe these Twitter heroes (many of them based in Italy) claiming they had the inside track on a transfer they have been predicting was imminent for months?

Obviously not, but this is a sign of how football players, clubs and their advisers are not conducting their business in a world where fans are refreshing their social media streams every three minutes hopes for more breaking news.

Pogba’s move to Manchester United has given a glimpse into the future of how football transfers are conducted on a variety of levels.

We can expect more of the same from this point forward.

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