Paul Pogba saga should force Manchester United to change transfer strategy

  Man Utd failed to sign Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland in the past and now they're being backed into a corner by Pogba's agent Min...

 Man Utd failed to sign Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland in the past and now they're being backed into a corner by Pogba's agent Mino Raiola.

A year is a long time in the world of football transfers.

Rewind the clock 12 months and the 'saga' enveloping Manchester United was not related to Paul Pogba, nor Jadon Sancho. No, it was Erling Haaland's name on the lips of every United fan, his name trending high on Twitter and being tapped into search engines. Having struck goal after goal for RB Salzburg and impressed in the Champions League against Liverpool, the Norwegian — with a tangible connection to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — was a very real transfer target for United.

He had worked with Solskjaer at Molde, he spoke English and knew the Premier League; United were keen on him and Haaland was open to the idea of a Premier League switch.

Yet not for the first time, and certainly not the last, Borussia Dortmund got the better of United in the transfer market.

It's always a deflating feeling for fans when their club does not land their preferred transfer targets. And unfortunately after the Haaland and Sancho sagas, it is becoming a little too familiar for the liking of United fans these days.

But United took a stand in December 2019 with regards to transfers that they need to use as a rule of thumb for the future.

Sources told the MEN that Haaland's representatives, including Mino Raiola, wanted to secure a share from future sales of the Norwegian striker as part of the transfer. United said a blanket 'no' to such proposals, believing it was setting a dangerous precedent. Okay, Haaland chose to go to Dortmund, but United took a principled stand. It was suggested back then that the club ought to scratch Raiola's name off the list of agents they would happily trade with.

Unfortunately, the club already have a Raiola client on their books and it's causing them no end of troubles at the moment.

Raiola has at least taken the edge of his recent comments by clarifying that he does not expect to sell Pogba in January. He said: "Pogba will have a great future. In England, they're very sensitive when you talk about Pogba.

"I’ve just expressed my thoughts. I’ve said that Paul can leave in the summer, it’s hard to do top deals in January."

But that doesn't help United much. In fact, it will it make it harder for the club to get a decent price for a talented World Cup winner, who will have a year remaining on his contract.

And, like it or nor, they will have to deal with Raiola — to an extent — when negotiating Pogba's inevitable departure between now and the summer. But every time the agent opens his mouth in the media, United must be cursing their luck.

Which is why they must take a stand, as Gary Neville rightly said, when it comes to Raiola. A stand that may scupper their chances of landing Haaland or any other Raiola client in the future.

"The guy (Raiola) should never be dealt with again by this football club," said Neville. "This club has to stand still and look at what's happening. They can’t go and sign another player with that agent. Enough is enough. Paul Pogba does not want to play for Manchester United Football Club.

"His agent, who is his best friend, told us categorically that he does not want to be here anymore."

Maybe United could stretch this change to their transfer policy even further, and discount any agent who threatens to mess them around, seek to pressurise their negotiating position or sully their name in the media.

It may prove restrictive, it may rule United out of the race to sign some of Europe's biggest names, but it may be necessary to avoid the circus.

United have been stung one too many times in the transfer market, not just by Raiola, but by a certain naivety in their actions and decisions. The Pogba saga may have helped them get tough. No more Mr Nice Guy.

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