Manchester United have confirmed that Paul Pogba will leave the club on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the month. A statement posted on the club’s official website thanked the Frenchman for his service, and “a United career that had brought so many individual high moments, so many beautiful goals, assists and pieces of skill.” The 29-year-old has been linked with a return to Juventus, or a transfer to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.
In the end, there is no denying that Pogba’s second spell at United brought many “individual high moments”, but therein also lies his problem. The flashes of brilliance glimpsed at Old Trafford have always been “individual”, and unlike the truly great midfielders — even those of less natural ability — Pogba has proven unable to elevate the performances of those around him. Instead, he’s often sunk to their level, unable to dominate matches from the centre of the pitch.
As such, Pogba’s United career will go down as a failure of significant proportions. Signed in 2016 for a then-record fee of nigh £90 million, he has just an EFL Cup and a Europa League winner’s medal to show for his 233 appearances. Small change compared to the four scudetti and a World Cup won with Juventus and France respectively. He may well go on to re-establish himself as a top midfielder, but one whose reputation will be tainted by doubts over his mental fortitude and commitment to the cause, particularly when the going gets tough.