Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri declined to crush speculation linking Paul Pogba with a transfer in this window, instead observing that “when you talk about certain figures, it’s difficult to say no”.
The Betfair Sportsbook has a market asking who the Frenchman will be playing for come September 3, so we decided to examine his options…
Manchester City (2/1)
The Citizens are considered to be the only English club with a realistic chance of signing him, with Chelsea 16/1, Manchester United 20/1 and Arsenal 28/1.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak spoke recently about attracting top players and Pogba is an obvious fit given the combination of his stature and their midfield problems, with Frank Lampard and James Milner departing, Fernando not excelling to date and a Yaya Toure succession plan required. The opportunity to get one over their neighbours, who lost him for next to nothing in 2012, is a bonus.
Real Madrid (4/1)
Yes, the ten-time European champions aren’t thirsting for an injection of midfield quality given that James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are already there, but that never seems to affect their thinking. After all, they sacrificed Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria to recruit the former two last year.
Pogba has sufficient ability and confidence not to be put off by the competition if an offer is forthcoming. He joined Juventus back when their most celebrated asset was the central trio of Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, and quickly took over.
Like Real, Barcelona’s need for midfield reinforcement is far from desperate for as long as Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic are conducting. However, the Camp Nou rumours appear to carry the most momentum, to the point of presidential candidate Agusti Benedito claiming to have discussed finances with the 22-year-old.
A transfer ban means that he wouldn’t be able to represent the Champions League holders until January, perhaps facilitating a brief loan return to Juventus, though Barcelona’s purchase of Aleix Vidal from Sevilla confirmed that they are at least allowed to complete deals in this transfer window.
Paris St-Germain (9/1)
Alongside Man City, Paris St-Germain probably have the easiest midfield to break into, but Pogba is gifted enough to believe that he can displace the likes of Kroos and Rakitic, so this almost certainly won’t be a factor in any decision over his future.
Indeed, on the contrary, a less competitive league in which to develop into a Ballon d’Or contender and a team that lacks the Champions League pedigree of Real, Barcelona or even current employers Juventus are more likely to dissuade him from a move to his homeland.
Stay at Juventus
The fact that favourites Man City are 2/1 to secure Pogba’s signature shows that it is no guarantee that he will leave Juventus and there are plenty of reasons to stay put.
In addition to providing him with continuity ahead of a huge summer in which he stands to be the face of Euro 2016 in France, they have furnished him with three league titles and three other honours in three seasons, and have now proven that they can hang with the continent’s finest too.