Paul Pogba

Due to the international tournaments in Europe and South America, the 2021 summer transfer window has lacked the usual flurry and even more so due to the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Major deals have only just picked pace in the fortnight since the Euro 2020 and Copa America Finals with more set to be confirmed before the close of the window.

Nevertheless, there has remained a certain familiar scenario in football; a superstar has one year left on his deal and is rejecting an extension with his employers, therefore, suitors circle to contemplate a cut-price deal or wait for the Bosman ruling 12 months later. This is a theme that is particularly unsurprising when the agent at work is Mino Raiola.

Raiola suggested in December that Paul Pogba is “unhappy” at Manchester United and “needs a change of scenery”, urging him to leave the club in the summer.

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The Frenchman’s future at Old Trafford is up in the air with just one year left on his current deal and Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a move. 

Pogba has reportedly turned down a contract offer worth £50m as United risk losing the flamboyant midfielder for nothing for the second time in nine years. In his second spell at United, he has scored 38 goals in 199 appearances but generally failed to live up to expectations.

Pogba’s inconsistent performances for the Red Devils do not match those for France who he helped win the World Cup in 2018. His perceived failure to either nail down a role or work up the perfect chemistry with his midfield colleagues have characterized his five years in red.

On their part, United are not prepared to let Pogba go cheaply and would reportedly sanction a sale if their £50m valuation is met. This would mean a huge loss in contrast to the record £89m paid for Pogba’s return from Juventus in 2016.

Ole Gunnar Soskjaer, however, will hope to avoid losing Pogba for free just like his role model Sir Alex Ferguson did.

United proactively signed Donny van de Beek last summer in case Pogba left, and are being linked with numerous possible replacements. If they do lose the 28-year-old this summer, there is less pressure to react and they could invest the funds elsewhere.

Meanwhile, should Solskjaer decide for quality cover as he is rumoured to favour a switch to a 4-3-3 shape this season, Football Castle has analyzed the long list of targets to provide our best candidates to replace Paul Pogba at Man United.

Donny Van de Beek

The Dutchman has endured a nightmare start to life in England following his big-money move from Ajax last summer.

The 24-year-old has warmed the bench for the majority of the season and seems yet to earn his manager’s trust. However, Solskjaer’s reported desire to switch to a three-man midfield could afford Van de Beek a lifeline.

The gifted midfielder only made a disappointing four Premier League starts last season and would be focused on increasing that tally. He has unsurprisingly been linked with a swift exit but appears willing to stay and fight for his place at Old Trafford.

Pogba’s likely departure could well be his big break. The technically gifted ace has the quality to nail down his spot.

Leon Goretzka

Leon Goretzka

Like Pogba, Goretzka has entered the final year of his contract at Bayern Munich and appears unwilling to commit his long-term future to the German champions.

The Bavarians find themselves in the exact circumstances as United and could have to sell the 26-year-old for a cut-price of his valuation. Goretzka would be seen as the perfect replacement for Pogba due to his box-to-box ability and a towering presence in midfield.

Having won three Bundesliga titles, two German Cups and the Champions League in 2020, Goretzka possesses a key winning pedigree as well as the stamina, intelligence and aggression to excel in the Premier League for Man United.

Needless to say, the Germany international would fit perfectly alongside Bruno Fernandes and a competent holding midfielder behind them.

Saúl Ňiguez

The Spain international has fallen down the pecking order at Atlético Madrid who may decide to cash in on him amidst numerous interest this summer.

Joining United would be an enticing prospect for Saúl given he would have an integral role in Solskjaer’s plans. Any manager would be delighted to call upon his impressive qualities. 

Saul Niguez
La Liga title winner Saul would immediately improve Man United’s midfield ranks. (Getty Images)

The 26-year-old is excellent at recycling possession and dictating the tempo in midfield, one of the key qualities United currently lack. Scott McTominay and Fred are not the best at keeping possession and his ball-playing abilities would greatly improve Ole’s weak midfield core.

Although Saúl remains subject of interest to a possible swap deal with Antoine Griezmann, Old Trafford’s doors will be gladly open should Pogba leave the club.

Eduardo Camavinga

The 18-year-old is widely seen as one of the most promising players in world football after breaking through with Rennes in Ligue 1 aged just 16, as well as the senior French national team.

However, with just a year left on his deal, one of football’s highly-rated teenagers could be available for as little as £25m. That fee for one of the best young midfielders in Europe is a bargain given his considerable talent and the inflated market. 

He could also prove a gem for United. 

The youngster is clever in his positioning, intelligent in how he uses his body, and his magnetism for the ball is immense for his tender age. 

Having already helped Rennes to their first Champions League campaign and scored for his country on his first start against Ukraine, this teenager appears unfazed by the big occasion. 

Camavinga’s youth, maturity and underlying quality would dovetail nicely in Ole’s squad and no doubt improve their fortunes. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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