Pogba ready to set new bar in Premier League, for spending on players and agents

The Guardian is reporting that Manchester United are ready to pay Juventus £92m plus £18m in agent’s fees to land Paul Pogba. Further details emerged that United will buy Pogba’s image rights and including those rights plus salary, Pogba will earn £15m a season (£290k a week) playing for United. It’s a deal which shows the power of the Premier League and also the lunacy.

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to Pogba is that in all my years watching football I have seen dozens of players compared to Patrick Vieira but only Pogba comes close. This isn’t a physical resemblance, though both are tall and lanky, it’s more the combination of power and elegance with a dogged determination which makes the comparison.

Vieira didn’t get many assists and didn’t score many goals but he linked play from the back four to the creative players, while shielding the defense. And when he did bomb forward, the result was often spectacular. I have one of 11 Cannons’ drawings of Vieira on my wall, it’s a rendering of the moment that he scored that goal against Spurs at White Hart Lane. The goal that helped Arsenal win the League at White Hart Lane during the Invincibles season. Vieira was the heartbeat of the Invincibles team and I have no doubt that Pogba will be the same for this United team.

How much would Arsenal supporters pay to have a Vieira back in the squad? How much you got?

Vieira at White Hart Lane

But how much Arsenal supporters would pay and how much Arsenal and Arsene Wenger would pay are two different things. Two vastly different things.

Down the years it has often felt like Jose Mourinho is Arsenal’s greatest ever troll and this season is no different. With United stocked with young talent up front in Martial and Depay, and Arsenal supporters begging their manager to buy a striker and a wide forward, Jose went out and scooped up Zlatan and the much-prized Henrik Mkhitaryan. Meanwhile, Arsenal activated Jamie Vardy’s release clause only to have the England international choose to stay at Leicester.

And now, United are set to break the records for Paul Pogba. So, it’s no surprise that when I tweeted that the Pogba deal is bad business the Arsenal fans were livid. They are dying for their club to do some similar bad business.

What I mean by bad business, I specifically said it could be the worst deal in the club’s history, is that United are paying Juventus over £100m to buy back a player they let go on a free four years ago.  No matter how people spin the deal, Man U lost £100m because of Fergie’s hubris.

And not only the transfer fee, which includes an obscene £18m just for the agent, bringing the total to £108m, the salary of the player at £290k a week, £15m a year, means that over four years, Pogba will cost the club £168m.

But Man U is a Cayman Islands based business and they can easily absorb a £100m transfer loss. United were third on Deloitte’s rich list last season and are tipped to be the richest club in the world next season, thanks to a new Premier League television deal, new shirt deals, and other merchandising efforts.

But even for the richest club in the world, spending £100m isn’t a drop in the bucket. That is about 1/4 of their last reported turnover which was £395.2m for the fiscal year ending in 2015.

But so what? What do fans care as long as their team is winning?

It is true. Man City and Chelsea fans have proven that fans don’t care how much debt their club accrues, how much players cost, how much their agents make, they don’t care about financial fair play, and they don’t care about League equity or competition, they just want to win. With all the spending this season, Leicester City’s fairytale is looking like it will go down in Premier League history as a blip — as the traditional big four get back to the business of being the best clubs in the League. Does anyone think Leicester will win the League again this year?

Maybe they shouldn’t care. These big clubs like Chelsea and Man U can even absorb the loss of Champions League revenue and still go on to spend £108m on Paul Pogba. No one folded. No one is in threat of relegation. For the biggest clubs it’s back to business as usual. For the smaller clubs, they will be able to compete, but only at the same level they always have been able to compete.

And for the fans who were hoping that the increased TV money would go back to the supporters in the form of lower prices on tickets, and on a more Bundesliga like fan-friendly atmosphere at the games, the money is all going to exactly where they always feared it would: to agents and players. The group Supporters Direct issued this plea last season

Our member supporters’ trusts in the Premier League have been campaigning strongly and vociferously for lower ticket prices – particularly given the effect that these broadcasting deals are having on kick-off times.

Clubs have lowered away prices, and Arsenal are offering a further £4 reduction in prices for away fans. But if Raio Mineola is paid £18m in agent’s fees for the Pogba deal, that would mean that Pogba’s agent alone is set to eat up 62% of Man U’s increased TV money (£29m) for one season.



  1. I keep wishing the bubble will pop, but it seems to have no end. The speed at which these transfer/agent fees and salaries have increased in the last few years is astonishing. I want Arsenal to strengthen the team with real quality, but I can also see that it’s just ludicrous to spend that much of your turnover on one player. What a farce financial fair play was.
    I realize the only way the bubble pops is by large swaths of the public having enough and turning it off. And I am tempted to do it myself because I am fed up with the largesse, corruption, stupidity of the FIFA/FA trying to hang onto tradition by not having video assistance for the ref when tradition left the stable a long time ago for pretty much everything else, etc.
    But then the season will begin and I’ll want to watch. And it feels a bit futile because my one turn off won’t matter in the end. Frustrating.

  2. What the Pogba deal shows to me is that:

    1. CL football doesn’t really matter to attract the best players like we’ve been consistently told
    2. Only us Arsenal fans turn into accountants and over obsess with money spent on transfers, as if that will make any difference for the club
    3. As much as I hate to admit it, that hypocritical douche bag called Jose did in 20 days what we could not in three years. Be it Sneider and Milito, or Cesc and Costa, or now Mkhtaryan and Ibrahimovic, he knows what suits his two season Tetris management style and buys it. Of course, and the obligatory same agent player to bleed some more money from the club, like Coentrao or Bosingwa, so he can pocket some kickback just because he is a douche bag.
    Did I mention that he is a douche bag?
    Because he is a douche bag. And he just bought all the players I wanted to see in an Arsenal kit.

  3. One of the weirdest things I’ve found with following Arsenal online are the Arsenal fans that will come out vociferously in defense of other teams as soon as you throw a bit of criticism their way. It’s almost like they can easily supply a valid reason that excuses every other club of every dodgy deal or mistake, but when it comes to Arsenal the same benefit of the doubt is hardly ever given.

    If this was Arsenal you know there would be lots of comments about how we’re a ‘laughing stock’ for spending so much on a player we could have had for nothing and how this surely raises doubts about Arsene’s ability to judge talent.

  4. One of the weirdest things I’ve found with following Arsenal online are the Arsenal fans that will come out vociferously in defense of other teams as soon as you throw a bit of criticism their way. It’s almost like they can easily supply a valid reason that excuses every other club of every dodgy deal or mistake, but when it comes to Arsenal the same benefit of the doubt is hardly ever given.

    If this was Arsenal you know there would be lots of comments about how we’re a ‘laughing stock’ for spending so much on a player we could have had for nothing and how this surely raises doubts about Arsene’s ability to judge talent.

    1. It’s not weird. It’s akin to holding your own child to higher standards than other kids.

  5. I think the question to be asked is how often does the ‘Bugatti Veyron’ level football player turn into a ‘dud’ purchase and off the top of my head, the answer would be not often. Bale, Ronaldo top that list at present and they are excellent players who are being played in positions that utilize their strengths. Di Maria was a dud but only because of poor coaching decisions. So if your club does its homework on how it wants to use the player and you make that expensive buy, then your club will be showered with on the pitch and off the pitch benefits. Agent fees are just an ‘unseen’ costs that fan don’t consider or care about. Supporters trust should poll their membership on whether they would prefer ticket price rollbacks and ‘value’ player buys or a mega star player purchases with no rollbacks. I have no dog in that fight but I think the mega bucks player will win over supporters.

    An Arsenal supporter should know going into our deal that we are not Man U, Chelsea, PSG, Man City, Barcelona or Real Madrid in our spending philosophy and in our values philosophy. Moral values and spending values are inseparable at Arsenal and if you can’t accept that then you will be frustrated during every transfer window.

    I am pleased that Man U must now ‘slink’ back to purchase their former player because of a poor ego driven decision. Man U fans will not hold that against SAF. He will always be the greatest Man U manager of all times and Mourinho will never, ever surpass him even with SAF reject Pogba in his side.

    1. “An Arsenal supporter should know going into our deal that we are not Man U, Chelsea, PSG, Man City, Barcelona or Real Madrid in our spending philosophy and in our values philosophy. ”

      But I thought the whole point of building a new stadium and brand was to be on the same level as Man U, Chelsea, PSG, Barcelona, Real, etc. I admit that we don’t have the same amount of money to spend as these teams since we are not backed by oil barons or play in a league where we can negotiate our own TV deal. But there are also teams like Bayern and Atletico Madrid who seem to share the same philosophy as Arsenal and have the success to go with it. I constantly see us listed in the wealthiest clubs in the world, but we seem to have trouble bringing in top talent.

      I am a big fan of Wenger and refuse to criticize him for not winning the league for the last 12 years because, unlike many pundits, I recognize that we were cash strapped up until a couple of years ago because of the move to the Emirates. That being said, it irks me when he says that player X isn’t available. Every player is available for a price and one usually has to pay over the odds to convince an unwilling owner to sell. Tops clubs seem to recognize this and act accordingly. I wish we would do the same because I don’t think we’re too far from being dominant.

      1. I will not try to guess which 10 were over hype but I will say I count 7: Torres (Chelsea), Falcao (Monaco), Figo (Inter), Crespo (Chelsea), Kaka (Real Madrid), Sterling (Man City), and Di Maria (Man U).

        Torres at Pool was a scary player who I remembered destroyed Vidic in one game. Goes to Chelsea and got destroyed mentally and has only just now shown a pulse in Spain.
        Falcao at Atletico Madrid was electric. Goes to Monaco and injuries turn him into a shell and he has yet to recover.
        I watched Figo at Inter and I said to myself, “am I missing something here because he looks old and slow. He was also not starting but being brought on a la Walcott for a late impact from his guile and not his speed.
        By the time Crespo got to Chelsea he was toast (see Torres). He goes back to AC Milan and I dreaded him starting for us against Pool in the CL final in Turkey but he scored 2 goals in that famous losing effort and that was all he wrote.
        Kaka was like Sissoko for France only he could finish and he would dictate play. He single-handedly destroyed Messi and Argentina in a friendly at the Emirates. His arrival at Real Madrid was hampered by injuries and he continues to be injured in Miami.
        Take my Raheem Sterling, please (with apologies to Henny Youngman). The players above had great careers but just got old, got injured, were misused, were poorly serviced by their team mates and none of which applies to Sterling who is just not very good so far.
        Di Maria is a great player who got Van Gaaled and has resurrected his career at PSG with a better supporting cast.
        I did not include Bale because Real Madrid fans can be fickle and as Cicinho notes, the Spanish media can be easily manipulated to scapegoat players.
        This list should also be a warning to those who think we should get a Higuain or other close to 30 yo striker because you never know when that season will come (and it will) that they turn to shit. That’s another argument for getting a second younger striker to back up or replace Giroud when his time comes.

  6. Here is an interesting discussion concerning Juventus (9th on the Forbes list) and Arsenal (5th on the Forbes list) on transfer purchases and title success between two teams. Juventus has come back from the Calciopoli death knell to be once again a force in Serie A with talent galore while we still cannot overcome player defections, mental fragility and a new stadium that was suppose to increase our financial power in the EPL.

    1. Their competition in the Italian League has crumbled, while ours has grown through oil money and the TV deals. Besides, we are the victims of any referee calciopoli that might exist in England.

      1. Juventus despite being in a “crumbling” Serie A have since 2001 been in CL 12 times with 2 final appearances and 3 Euro League appearances. The point being that Juventus fields teams that are not weakened by playing in Serie A which I’ve always called the Elephant’s graveyard for players moving from other leagues.

        1. I do not disagree with you, but when the bulk of your league competition is a lot weaker than you are, you do not have to exhaust your best players for every single point.

  7. Here’s the thing. If Arsene Wenger did not have the attitude that he’s a custodian of this club, we would probably also have had some mega deals, or multiple deals with the same agent over the years.

    But, we would not have grown as a club, and not stand on the cusp of becoming a true elite. That gap only seems surmountable because of Arsenal and Wenger’s attitude to transfers over the years. It is also what increases people’s frustrations because it seems so close and achievable.

    Is there one player that would jump us over that threshold potentially? If there is, and Wenger believes there is, I am willing to bet we’d spend 25% of our turnover to make it happen. Would that be enough? Probably not, because there are clubs who can spend more than us. But at some point, we will do a deal like that. Because that is what this whole process has been about.

    We don’t need Pogba this season. Our midfield is well stocked and well balanced. It’s a striker we need, and a striker that is most likely to be that difference maker in general. I’m not convinced Higuain is it either.

    Anyway, far too much time and effort is wasted on Arsenal’s transfer policy. It is what it is. We don’t operate the same way as the other big clubs. To me, that isn’t frustrating. We never bought the biggest names in world football. I think we do better now than we did at any time since a dozen years ago. And that gap is attributable to the stadium and the cautious, careful, custodial attitude of the manager and board.

    Now go out and get us a striker Arsene!

    1. Agreed. Wenger’s value oriented approach has put us at a lower tier success wise ( if you think mega deal players would improve our success rates and I do) but it is what it is and it will not change while Wenger is the gatekeeper.

  8. On another note. I think we supporters don’t really know how the transfer market works. Anyone who works in business should know that in every business there are internal workings that aren’t apparent from outside. Some of it is also dirty.

    I really want to know how the transfer market really works. I suspect it isn’t as simple as identifying a player and paying top dollar for him.

    1. That’s where I believe Arsenal’s morals and values as a club prevent us from deailng with certain agents of desirable players and certain owners of desirable players. I believe that we are always looking for the ‘clean’ transfer: no 3rd party ownership, no scumbag agents, no scum bag owners, no scum bag players , the ‘right’ price and then in the end it becomes a matter of degree as to what Arsenal are willing to tolerate (or overlook).

      1. Thanks (and to Jason as well)

        Interesting read even if it’s not quite what I was talking about.

  9. Hey Tim, if Arsene wanted to make a big splash, and counter some of the competition’s moves, it would have to be 80 million pounds for Griezmann, no? He’d be a much better buy for the money, given his age, than Higuain. And even though Atletico say he’s staying, maybe 85 gets it done. Or 90? We’re all sure AW won’t do this, and you were right to predict last summer’s stasis, but he must know that if he doesn’t do something radical, even Top 4 might be a tough accomplishment. (ManU, City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Leicester…)

  10. When we look at an Atletico Madrid, BVD, Juventus, a Leicester, a Swansea or Southampton who don’t have oodles of cash but manage to succeed on the basis of their player acquisition skills and so far Arsenal are not on that level. These clubs are bringing in young unheard of players and polishing these players into valuable stars.

  11. I want to mention that the Pogba sale will immediately be turned around and spent on Higuain. The groundwork has been set and Higuain is excited to play for Juve. They need to get it done because Higuain’s release supposedly expires on the 31st. But Juve is going to take Higuain.

    The question for me is how this EPL money is going to change places like Italy, France, and Germany. BvB could reasonably expect to earn £80m for Reus, for example. Then what?

    1. Yup. As soon as I saw the Pogba-United rumor, I knew Higuain was headed to Juve for Napoli’s not-so-secret asking price.

  12. Screw all that egg on United face stuff about letting Pogba go. Mourinho doesn’t care. It wasn’t on his watch. He has a big ass cheque book and he’s using it. He identified his squad’s weaknesses, and he’s addressing them. He identified what he wanted, and he’s going after it.

    This transfers business is not rocket science, although our estimable manager, who loves himself a transfer deadline bargain, makes it look that way sometimes.

    Don’t get me wrong. At this stage of the season I’m relaxed that we only signed Granit and the Japanese lad so far. There’s time. No need to get riled up.

    But then again, there’s Wenger. And there’s Mourinho, whose style of quick and decisive transfer dealings I much prefer.

    1. Yup, I’m with you. Hate Mourinho for all kinds of personal and ethical reasons, but there’s something to be said for not dicking around and just buying players the club really needs, and, you know, doing so before the season actually starts. Unless it’s for a player somewhat under the radar, I think Wenger is an opportunist rather than an initiator, and we suffer for it every season.

      1. I have a theory regarding Mourinho that he’s basically an agents’ agent, and why he constantly needs to move clubs is because there’s a limit to how much he can seed one club with his chosen agents’ players. Transfers are what he lives for.

  13. I probably wouldn’t give a fuck who United buys as long as we bought the players we needed to improve the squad, and therein lies the problem. We haven’t bought the requisite players to have a title challenging squad for a long time now. I can overlook the austerity years (though Leicester winning the league last year made a mockery of that) but we needed a CM, a striker and a wide forward last season and didn’t do it. We are always a couple of players short and it always, without fail, comes back to bite us in the ass. That’s what makes United’s transfers a bitter pill to swallow. Not because they are buying a £100 mil player but because they are buying the players they need. I am keeping my fingers crossed and trying to stay positive but can anyone say with any degree of certainty that we will buy the players we need to have a title challenging squad based on what we have seen during the transfer window in the last few seasons? If anything, I would say the odds of our manager leaving us short once again are much higher.

    I have said it here before. To operate in this transfer market, you need balls. Balls to pay over the odds for a player you think are going to take you to the next level. I think Mkhitaryan would have done that for us. I don’t buy for a second he didn’t want to come to Arsenal. Players only see money (mostly). If we had the balls to outbid Utd. and given him a higher wage packet, there is absolutely no way either the club or the player could have refused us. Maybe Wenger wasn’t in for Mkhi at all – and that would make it even more astonishing. He is exactly what we needed on the right side. Hell, with players like Alexis, Ozil and Mkhi behind the CF, I would have even given Sanogo a chance.

  14. I’m going to shut it fdown for 7/21/2016 but because I’m a football crazy, I’m going to leave with this piece of soccer enlightenment. This is the reason why we are bless to have Wenger as our manager. This the reason why to be a real Arsenal supporter, you need to have a degree of sophistication about football that puts you well above the British media, the pundits, the English FA and some supporters of clubs who bash how we play.
    Spoiler alert: Xhaka, Özil are prominently mentioned and Pogba is not in the following article. Those of you who think we should buy Griezmann should pat yourselves on the back and start Greizmann transfer go fund me page for Arsenal.


  15. If Pogba helps them to two league titles, won’t that be money well spent?


    P.S. – This was over a year ago, I think. Vieira said that Pogba had surpassed him as a player. Not sure what to make of that since he didn’t overly impress at the Euros.

    1. That’s a huge ask for a CM. He’s not a creator. He’s not a Zidane. He’s a power player. He might help them to a title, and I’m certainly not ruling that out, but he’s no guarantee to a title. I think that Mkhitaryan is more the catalyst for a title than Pogba.

    1. I don’t know if it helps but after changing my name handle to make it shorter both of my comments on the last post never appeared. Since I reverted back to my previous full name it’s been fine.

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