Paul Pogba completed a sensational return to Manchester United from Juventus for a world record 105 million euros ($116 million) transfer fee.
After a week-long wrangle, United finally announced Pogba had signed a five-year contract, marking his return to a club that had let him go for a token fee in 2012.
In Turin, Juventus confirmed media reports that Pogba had been transferred for 105 million euros, to be paid over two years. The fee may rise by five million euros “on achieving given conditions” but details were not disclosed.
The sum, equivalent to 89 million pounds, smashes the previous record of 85 million pounds for the transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, making Pogba the most valuable player in football history.
The reported fee does not include agent’s fees. The transfer had stalled for weeks over how the two clubs would share the sizeable payout to Pogba’s representative Mino Raiola.
Reacting on the move, Pogba said, “This is the right club for me to achieve everything I hope to in the game. I am delighted to rejoin United. It has always been a club with a special place in my heart and I am really looking forward to working with Jose Mourinho.”
Newly appointed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes Pogba can inspire United’s revival.
“He has the chance to be at the heart of this club for the next decade and beyond,” said Mourinho.
“Paul is one of the best players in the world and will be a key part of the United team I want to build here for the future. He is quick, strong, scores goals and reads the game better than many players much older than he is,” the Portuguese coach added.
However, the Portuguese boss has hinted Pogba’s arrival will signal the end of United’s spending spree.
“Our fundamental market is 75% done. When we sign one midfield player that crucial work will be done,” he had said during United’s pre-season tour of China.
Mourinho also insisted United’s financial muscle should be a source of pride and not embarrassment.
“When other people break records, I don’t think it’s a reason to be sad. I think it’s a reason to be proud with the dimension of a club that can do that and can attract players of this dimension,” he said.
Pogba made just seven appearances during his previous spell at the club as a teenager before leaving for Juventus when his contract ran out.
He returns to his old stomping ground as one of the world’s most established midfielders after winning four consecutive Serie A titles and leading France to the Euro 2016 final.
“Thanks @juventusfc and all Juventini. Goodbye means nothing, it is the time we spent together that matters,” Pogba posted on his official Twitter account as a farewell message to Juventus fans.
Thanks @juventusfc and all Juventini. Goodbye means nothing, it is the time we spent together that matters 🙏🏾❤— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) August 8, 2016
Redemption for Sir Alex Ferguson’s mistake?
The huge cash splurged for Pogba, will lead to questions over how Sir Alex Ferguson -- one of the greatest managers of talent in football -- allowed the French midfielder to slip out of United’s hands four years ago, over differences with Raiola.
In his 2015 book titled ‘Leading’, Ferguson described his first meeting with Raiola as “a fiasco”.
“He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus,” Ferguson wrote.
Raiola, who also represents two of United’s other new signings -- Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan and star Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is set to make millions from the deal.
Mourinho’s reign got off to a successful start on Sunday as Ibrahimovic scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Premier League champions Leicester City in the Community Shield.