I don’t know how long a transfer rumour has to be circulating for — or how many times a deal must go from off to on, and back to off again — before it can officially be declared a "saga", but it feel like we’re getting close to that point with this whole Paul Pogba scenario.
What seems to be taken as fact right now is that Manchester United want to bring Pogba back to the club, and they’d be willing to spend as much as £100 million to do so. Everything else appears to be speculation and rumour.
And as far as we can tell, this is pretty much where the most reported whispers stand at the moment:
Sky Italia reported last week that Pogba, via his agent Mino Raiola, has agreed to personal terms of €13 million per season, on a five-year deal for a potential return to Old Trafford. Which would only leave United needing to agree a fee with Juventus, with the Red Devils preparing an offer of €123 million for the player.
But Juventus remain reluctant to part ways with the talented 23-year-old and are under no financial need to sell.
Raiola has also been quoted in the Italian media as saying that Juventus have offered Pogba an improved contract which the player is considering.
Reports in France have recently suggested that United were considering Pogba’s international team-mate Blaise Matuidi as a possible back-up option, should they fail to convince Juventus to sell.
Although, last week, ESPN FC reported that United’s persuit of Matuidi is not linked to the Pogba move, and that the club actually wants to sign both of the French midfielders.
Pogba is currently in Los Angeles following the culmination of Euro 2016. The flamboyant Juve man attended the ESPY awards this week, and appeared on ESPN Deportes to provide an interview in Spanish ahead of the event.
The interviewer, in an attempt to coax Pogba into declaring where he’d be playing next season, laid out Juventus, Real Madrid and United jerseys, and asked the Frenchman to comment on each.
Juventus, he said, is his "family", he described Real Madrid as a "great club", and referred to United as his "first family". It was a diplomatic answer from Pogba, who keeping his cards close to his chest. But he did insist that, while he is happy in Turin, he is not completely sure where he’ll be playing next season.
Meanwhile, over in Spain, Real Madrid have apparently ruled themselves out of the running to sign Pogba, with Sky Sports reporting Los Blancos’ withdrawal, citing the reason being that the eleven-time European champions are unwilling to pay the kind of transfer fee, wages and agents’ fees that United are putting up.
Spanish sports newspaper Marca ran a front page story yesterday which claimed Madrid’s interest in Pogba had gone cold due to his perceived underperformance in the final of the Euros.
Marca have also reported today that Raiola has issued a deadline for any possible Pogba deal to be wrapped up before the end of July, in order to give the player enough time to focus on the upcoming season, regardless of whether that is as a Juventus or United player.
Many fans have interpreted Juve’s apparent courting of Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín as a sign that the Old Lady are already making plans for life without Pogba, and are thinking ahead to how they will spend the enourmous fee.
It has been suggested that the Bianconeri are willing to activate Higuaín’s €94 million release clause, in addition to making the Argentinian the highest paid player in Italy on a salary of €7.5 million a year — €3.5 million more than Pogba’s current annual salary.
But Juve have already sold Álvaro Morata for €30 million this summer, and have offers on the table for other fringe players, with VfL Wolfsburg willing to pay €25 million for Simone Zaza, and the likes of Roberto Perreyra and Mario Lemina also likely to fetch eight-figure sums.
Couple this with the fact that Juventus are already in fine financial health, and it becomes entirely viable that they could move for Higuaín and still retain Pogba.
There will undoubtedly be more twists and turns in the Pogba to United story, and it would be an incredible move, for many reasons, if the Red Devils are able to pull it off. But for the sake of our sanity, hopefully a resolution, one way or the other, will be found soon.