Friday,17 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1305, (28 July - 3 August 2016)
Friday,17 August, 2018
Issue 1305, (28 July - 3 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The £100 million player

Manchester United might make Pogba history’s wealthiest footballer but he doesn’t deserve it, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

Jose Mourinho wants Paul Pogba back at Manchester United and is ready to pay the astonishing asking price of£100 million to secure his services from Juventus. This is the headline of every football newspaper, magazine and website this week as the English giants step up their efforts to sign the French star who undeniably flopped at the Euros on his nation’s home soil.

The fee seems astounding given that this would make Pogba the most expensive player ever. Cristiano Ronaldo cost Real Madrid £80 million while Gareth Bale cost the Spanish giants between £77 million and £85 million if rumours of him surpassing Ronaldo as the most expensive player ever is to be believed.

Pogba’s transfer fee is considered absurd and shocking to many football fans and pundits because Ronaldo’s transfer fee when he left Manchester United to join Read Madrid was criticised big time worldwide at its time even though he was the best player in the world and someone who guarantees you around 50 or 60 goals every season, not 10 or so like Pogba.

There is no doubt that the French midfielder is a superstar in the making but he’s by no means the finished product and surely not at the level of Ronaldo, Bale, Suarez or Neymar.  These names have the ability to win you games single handedly even when not at their best as we saw with Ronaldo at the Euros. He guided Portugal to the knockout stages thanks to his heroic display against Hungary where he scored twice and set up another in the 3-3 draw and again guided them to the final after his wonder header opened the scoring before he set up Nani to score the second in the 2-0 win against Wales and Bale. Bale himself was one of the best players at the Euros and played a major role in guiding his nation to their first ever Euros semi-final let alone guiding them to their first Euros in 58 years. Ronaldo and Bale both scored three goals at the Euros with the former setting up another three while Bale set up two.

On the other hand, Pogba was hugely anonymous in the tournament and was even benched for the second game against Albania after a shocking performance against Romania in the opening game. He returned to the starting lineup in the third game against Switzerland and played a good game before flopping against Ireland in round 16 where he conceded a needless and reckless penalty that gave the opponents the lead before player of the tournament and top scorer Antoine Griezmann bailed him out in the second half when he scored a brace to win it for France. His best game came against Iceland in the quarter-finals where he scored a goal in his team’s 5-2 win but still he was outshone by Griezmann and Olivier Giroud as the attacking duo played a starring role in guiding their team to the semis.

A quiet display against Germany in the semi-finals will be remembered for Pogba’s role in the second goal but his shockingly awful display against Portugal in the final was what really made football fans worldwide question the £100 million transfer fee put on him by Juventus. In his four seasons with the Italian giants Pogba scored 32 goals in 185 games in all competitions while Bale scored 58 goals in 123 games in three seasons and still got criticised by many fans and pundits claiming that a player who cost that much should score and contribute even more.

Ronaldo is of course above any comparisons as the Portuguese legend scored an astonishing 218 goals in the last four seasons, including an unbelievable 364 goals in 348 games since joining Real Madrid. The stats clearly show that Ronaldo is worth all the money in the world. Bale’s stats are also very impressive but Pogba’s stats are relatively poor compared to the players who cots less than him if he really leaves Juventus for £100 million. Suarez who cost Barcelona £75 million, £25 million less than Pogba’s transfer fee, scored an incredible 84 goals in just 96 games since he signed for the Catalans two seasons ago.

True, all three players are attackers while Pogba is a box to box midfielder but even when comparing him to players in the same position it’s obvious that he needs to score and assist much more to be considered a £100 million player. Box to box players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas during his time with Arsenal used to score week in week out and would have never cost ridiculous fees like Pogba’s. Fabregas in specific was considered a flop at Barcelona despite scoring 42 goals in 151 games in his three seasons at the club and wasn’t even a regular.

Pogba’s fans will argue that the transfer fees of players nowadays are hugely inflated compared to five or six years ago. This is absolutely true but still there is no way Pogba would cost £100 million if his French compatriot, the already 25-year-old superstar Griezmann costs £60 million or at most £70 million if he leaves Atletico Madrid for Chelsea as rumoured. Former France and Barcelona star Emmanuel Petit said it would be a waste of money to sign the “overrated” Pogba for that amount of money. Petit was just one of many stars to criticise the player and question his worth.

Pogba has a long way to go before reaching the level of Ronaldo and co but he’s definitely got the potential and ability to do so. In truth, and you can’t fault the player if his club is asking for such a ridiculous transfer fee and another club is willing to cough up the money.

On the other hand, the very best of our Egyptian players cost European clubs virtually nothing as we saw with Ramadan Sobhi who signed for Stoke a £2.5 million deal including some add-ons that could see the total fee go up to £3.5 million. Whether its £2.5 million or £3.5 million, this is almost nothing to any European club especially English clubs who have superior spending powers.

Apart from some exceptions like Moroccan star Mehdi Benatia who signed for Bayern Munich from Roma for an estimated €30 million, Arab players in general cost far less than their European counterparts. Even someone like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah never got the attention he deserves from the media until he signed for Roma where he’s now more or less their best player after Miralem Pjanic left for Juventus. The media plays a key role in the business and unfortunately players in Africa and the Arab world never get what they deserve until they leave for big European clubs.

So let’s hope Sobhi and Zamalek’s defender Omar Gaber will follow in the footsteps of fellow Egyptian stars Salah and Arsenal’s Mohamed Al-Nenni and get the money they deserve should they go to bigger clubs.

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