“Just signed my new contract with Juventus and I want to thank the club for the trust and the tifosi for their support,” wrote Paul Pogba to his 1.28m Twitter followers last Monday.
It was a message that reiterated the statement from Juve’s director general Giuseppe Marotta ahead of the shareholders’ general assembly last week: “Before coming to see you we signed a renewal with Pogba until 2019.”
Perhaps a tad presumptive by a couple of days but there is no doubt that Marotta was warning any would-be suitors that if they are intent on taking the club’s best young player they will have to pay an appropriate price. He was certainly stating the obvious as, no longer a diamond in the rough, Juve’s glittering young gem has immaculately polished up and has displayed the many facets of his skills since joining the Old Lady.
By rewarding him with a reported €75,000-a-week, Juve have demonstrated to the Best Young Player at last summer’s World Cup that he is now a vital and integral part of their future.
The deal also apparently includes bonuses for personal and team gains until 2019. “We deem the wage increase appropriate to Pogba’s value. There are no release clauses because we intend to keep him for a long time,” Marotta commented also. This was a rejoinder of his earlier statement that Juve had turned down several lucrative offers for Pogba in the summer.
The confidence shown in him by Juventus is the opposite of what the youngster says his former club Manchester United showed him after being offered a new contract. “I didn’t want to sign a contract as Ferguson [Sir Alex, United’s then manager] didn’t play me, even though there were no midfielders there,” Pogba has previously commented. “He obviously thought I didn’t deserve the contract I asked for. I told him ‘If I don’t play then I can’t get any experience and see how far I have to go’.” He stuck at it for a while, sat on the United bench with the much-hyped return of the veteran midfielder Paul Scholes in his position, and obviously thought that was the final straw, a Ferguson kick-in-the-teeth to the highly promising youngster.
Thankfully for world football, France and most of all Juve, the brilliant young Pogba seemed to have the confidence in his own innate talent to succeed anyway, regardless of the Premier League club’s input, and it proved the right decision.
Now two Scudetti and a highly successful World Cup later, he is earning big money, has a guaranteed first team place and the potential to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic et al as one of the world’s biggest talents.
For the present the exhilarating midfielder appears very happy working and living in Turin and feels he can only become a better player if he stays where he is: “I am happy at Juventus. I have already told you that.”
Yet his agent Mino Raiola offered this just before his extension: “We are very happy and Juventus stated they don’t want to sell him. He knows he can stay at Juve and be happy here, but in football you can never say never.”
Of course being the sort of voracious agent that he is, he has to put in a rider, but Bianconeri fans hope that any move is some way in the future. Yet the facts are that the extension and wage rise indicate his star and his value are on the up, no doubt just as his ambition is.
Juve now need to walk a fine line, a balancing act to make sure they appear in the final stages of the Champions league to fulfil Pogba’s and their fans wishes. And as indications from the start to their European campaign this term have shown, that may only be possible by bringing in new players. If they need to sell to raise funds for such investment, there are only one or two players who can fetch really big money and we all know who they are…