Manchester United have confirmed that Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing, will leave when his contract expires in June.
While there’s no doubt that a number of clubs will be interested in signing the World Cup winning Frenchman, who is undeniably gifted, Arsenal should not be one of them, despite their undeniable need for midfield depth.
In the next months, the Gunners will be linked with a number of names, as is customary throughout transfer windows. When Pogba’s future at United was still up in the air a few months ago, there was a sliver of hope that Edu and co could retain him in England.
However, with what Arsenal and Mikel Arteta are constructing at the Emirates, lavish salaries aren’t needed. It also runs counter to the club’s transfer strategy over the last year or so.
With the exception of a handful, the majority of Arteta’s signings have been promising young players under the age of 25, including all six who signed last summer. While the Spaniard has stated that he will aim to recruit more complete and experienced players this time around, as well as youth in some areas, signing Pogba would be a mistake.
There would be no fee to pay to Man United, of course. However, after removing hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wage bill in recent transfer windows – particularly in the winter market, where the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil have left the club – Arteta’s long-term vision would be disrupted by adding to it for short-term gain.
There’s also the idea that Arteta hasn’t quite perfected the art of controlling even the most powerful egos. Pogba has had a tumultuous relationship with a number of managers. While his talent has almost certainly earned him a starting spot in an otherwise mediocre United team in recent years, he’s been chastised for his temperament.
We will never know the ins and outs as neutrals, and there may have been occasions when he was unfairly blamed, but if at least some of what has been reported over his United stint is true, Arteta lacks the knowledge and patience to govern him.
That isn’t a criticism of Arteta, as his firm stance on non-negotiables has energised a young squad. But it’s a realization that he’s allowed disruptive players leave, often for less than Pogba has been scolded for.
And, at 29, the Gunners would be signing someone with no resale value once more. In recent years, the club has had a serious problem with allowing very gifted players leave for free, while its rivals – notably Liverpool – have recouped huge sums for absolutely average players. Sure, Pogba might be a quick fix, but he’d almost probably leave the team in worse shape within a few years.
Pogba to Arsenal is a long shot anyway, and Edu and Arteta will almost certainly shun him. But any Arsenal fan who understands the process and vision in place will tell you that even considering a prospective deal is ridiculous.