Manchester United fans have been debating how to replace Paul Pogba for more than two seasons now, after his flirtation with leaving in 2019.
Nobody paid United’s asking price then. Now, a move to PSG seems probable after he snubbed the club’s latest transfer offer, report The Mirror.
A departure would not be a surprise. Letting him run down his contract to leave on a free would be a PR disaster off the pitch and a recipe for unrest behind the scenes and on the pitch.
So now the time is almost here, how exactly do United replace Pogba?
Well, there are multiple ways to approach it. We looked at three of them earlier this summer. These included (a) paying for a creative player like Jack Grealish. Or (b) signing a player who is a bit of everything like Saul Niguez or even go big for Leon Goretzka. Or (c) go to West Ham and offer huge money for defensive midfielder Declan Rice.
There is a fourth option, an ‘option (d)’, and that is to sign multiple players to replace him.
Two for one
United have been linked to two midfielders recently with different traits who would strengthen the team. Both are available at good prices.
The first is youngster Eduardo Camavinga, who himself has just one year remaining on his Rennes deal. At just 18 he has played more than 80 first team games already.
United are keen with The Guardian reporting he could be available for just £25.7 million.
Camavinga is a strong tackler who likes to get forward. He is more Fred than Pogba in his approach in that he lacks some of the creative flair of the World Cup winner, but he makes up for that with his tenacity.
At the price he is available for, Camavinga is a quality investment who can grow into an elite player at United.
And with the addition of a second player, Camavinga would be under less pressure as the ‘Pogba replacement’ and able to learn and adjust at his own pace.
The second player would be Ruben Neves. The Wolves midfielder is Premier League ready, and in need of a fresh challenge. Talksport reported this week United are keen and he could be available at £35 million.
Like Camavinga, Neves is a strong tackler, but he also has a strong array of passing superior to both Fred and Scott McTominay.
Neves would help ensure there is not a big drop off in quality or experience with Pogba departing, and smooth the path for Camavinga’s development.
A double deal would no doubt make United’s midfield crowded, but Fred, 28, will need to be phased out eventually and Nemanja Matic, 32, would be allowed to move on.
United could do this double deal for £60 million, perhaps £70 million when the typical ‘United tax’ is added, but this would be offset by the £40-50 million United would get for Paul Pogba in return.
Others may prefer the singular big name, like pushing for a Goretzka or Rice as a one-off big fee. There is no right or wrong way to replace Pogba, a player who does not have a certain specific position in United’s XI. But is important the club reinvest the money if they are serious about backing the manager and mounting a title challenge.
Making multiple moves may be asking too much for United. Nonetheless, it is one way to go and both Neves and Camavinga are available this summer for very reasonable prices, less than half the fees they were one year ago.
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