Pogba’s time at Man United
Paul Pogba returned to Old Trafford in August of 2016 from Serie A giants Juventus.
United re-signed Pogba for a fee believed to be £89 million, which, at the time, was a transfer record.
In his three seasons back in Manchester, though, Pogba hasn’t really been able to live up to his price tag.
Despite Jose Mourinho being the man in charge when Pogba arrived back at United, the pair never really seemed to get along.
Mourinho is even reported to have labelled the midfielder a ‘virus’.
However, Mourinho was sacked in December of 2018, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as United’s interim boss.
When Solskjaer first took charge of the Red Devils, it looked as though he may actually be able to get the best out of Pogba.
In Ole’s first seven league fixtures as Man United manager, Pogba would score six and assist four, an excellent record for a central midfielder.
Unfortunately for United, Pogba soon reverted back to the player that he was under Jose Mourinho.
In Manchester United’s last 10 league outings of the 2018/19 campaign, Pogba scored just two and assisted none. Both of those goals would come from the penalty spot.
Even though Pogba did not have a great season, he was still United’s best player in a lot of areas.
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— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 16, 2019
Pogba on his way to Real Madrid?
After another inconsistent season in England, Paul Pogba may well be on his way to Spain.
Since Zinedine Zidane returned to Real Madrid for his second stint as manager, Pogba has been heavily linked with a move to the Bernabeu, with Spanish outlet Marca alleging that Zidane is keen to sign the United star.
Now, in a recent interview, Pogba appeared to be trying to force a move away from Man United.
In said interview, Pogba asserts that it may be time for a new challenge somewhere else:
“There is a lot of talking and a lot of thinking as well. For me I have been for three years in Manchester and have been doing great; some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody. Like everywhere else.
“After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well … I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else”. As quoted by the Guardian.
— Tokyo Current (@TokyoCurrent) June 16, 2019
Should Pogba depart Manchester United in this transfer window, they will need to sign a replacement.
Given the fact that United are said to want well in excess of £100 million for Pogba’s services, they should have a fair bit of money to spend on a replacement.
Here are three potential options.
1. Bruno Fernandes
The first name Manchester United could potentially target to replace Paul Pogba is Sporting CP’s Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes had a simply remarkable 2018/19 campaign.
Playing largely as an attacking midfielder, Fernandes scored 32 and assisted 18 in 52 games across all competitions for his club. This works out at nearly one goal contribution per game.
Fernandes was also a standout star for Portugal as they beat Switzerland and then the Netherlands to be crowned the inaugural Nations League champions.
Given that Fernandes is a very attack-minded mid, he would probably not be able to do as good a job in the defensive phase for United.
However, if handed the attacking freedom that he has for Sporting, Fernandes could go on to become one of the top midfielders in the Premier League.
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2. Youri Tielemans
Unlike Fernandes, the second player whom United could sign to succeed Pogba, Youri Tielemans, can offer a bit more defensively.
However, the Belgian is not as gifted as Fernandes in terms of creating chances and scoring goals.
Tielemans would spend the second half of the 2018/19 season on loan in the English top-flight with Leicester City.
During his short spell with the Foxes, Tielemans would net three and assist five in 13 PL outings.
Tielemans is additionally just 22 years of age, so he has plenty of time to develop as a player.
The Evening Standard have also reported that Tielemans is one of the players that United could sign to replace Pogba.
Tielemans is rumoured to have a price tag of £40 million, less than half of what Man United reportedly want for Pogba.
3. Christian Eriksen
The final player and perhaps the least likely of the trio to want to sign for Man United is Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen.
Eriksen has been an integral member of Spurs’ midfield since he moved from Ajax back in 2013.
The 27-year-old has played 277 games during his time in north London, scoring 66 and assisting 86.
Eriksen casts doubt over Spurs future
However, in a similar move to Pogba, Eriksen recently spoke out about his future, claiming that he may want to try something new:
“I feel that I am a place in my career where I might want to try something new.
“I have the wildest and deepest respect for everything that has happened at Tottenham – I will not be negative. But I have also said that I would like to try something new.
“I hope there will be a resolution during the summer. That’s the plan.” As quoted by Danish outlet Ekstra Bladet
Eriksen would also specifically discuss a potential move to Real Madrid, though he noted that Los Blancos have yet to call for him:
“It’s a step up. But it requires Real Madrid to call Tottenham and say they want Christian. And they have not done so yet, as far as I know.”
It has since been reported by Marca that Zinedine Zidane does not want to sign Eriksen, and only has eyes for Pogba.
With Eriksen having just over a year left on his current Tottenham deal, and with the midfielder seemingly looking to move this summer, Spurs may well be open to selling him to United.
However, Eriksen would then miss out on Champions League football. But after being so public about wanting to try something new, and with Real apparently not interested in him, Eriksen may have backed himself into a corner with regards to his Spurs future.
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