Paul Pogba’s latest attempt to flirt with Real Madrid was met with a collective yawn in Manchester and a shrugging of shoulders in the Spanish capital.
It seems the French midfielder has a recurring dream that involves pulling on that crisp white shirt and running out at the Bernabeu.
‘Yes, all football players would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me, why not one day?’ Pogba said on Thursday after reporting for international duty with France.
Paul Pogba has once again said it’s his ‘dream’ to one day play for Real Madrid – but it will remain just a dream unless circumstances change dramatically for the French midfielder
Pogba (right) and fellow midfielder Fred react during United’s 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham
A miserable Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford was compounded when Pogba gave away a penalty for Tottenham’s sixth goal following a clumsy foul on Ben Davies
Pogba did follow that up by claiming that he still loved Manchester United and was ‘having fun’ there, something not immediately obvious during their 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham a few days earlier.
Trouble is, United fans have long grown tired not only of such remarks but his listless performances at the heart of their team.
Patience over Pogba has well and truly worn thin and most would now be more than happy to see him realise that ‘dream’ and clear off to Spain.
But it isn’t that simple. Pogba, 27, may be in the final year of his Old Trafford contract – meaning opportunities for United to recoup the then world record £89million they paid for him are fast running out – but that doesn’t mean Real will necessarily be interested.
Real targets contemplating whether or not to join the club always used to be told that ‘the train only passes once.’
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has been keen on Pogba in the past but the ship may now have sailed after two previous flirtations over a transfer
Pogba turned down Real’s advances in order to re-sign for Manchester United back in 2016
The implication was that if you turned them down once you would never get another chance.
Though plenty of players – such as Patrick Vieira – and coaches – Arsene Wenger – did get several opportunities it was usually true that when the stars aligned you had to make the move.
So that’s why Pogba’s latest declaration was met with a shrug of the shoulders in Madrid on Friday.
It feels like the train has very much already left the station for a player who came close to joining in 2016 and again in 2019.
Pogba was 24 the first time and one of the most sought-after talents in the world after four successful years with Juventus.
It appeared that Real would get their latest ‘Galactico‘ but Pogba had his heart set on a move back to Old Trafford and United were willing to splash the cash as Jose Mourinho came in as manager.
A year later, Pogba explained: ‘I always felt it in my heart. My heart told me to come back here. I did it and I don’t regret. I never regret my choice.’
Pogba reacts in dismay to a refereeing decision during another poor performance on Sunday
But hearts can change and by 2019, after failing to repeat his Juventus form at United, Pogba was ready to push through his Bernabeu move.
But he didn’t push hard enough, the move didn’t materialise and the chances of ever getting to Real became even slimmer.
If Pogba runs down his contract and if it looks as though compatriot Zinedine Zidane will still be at the club in 2021 then perhaps there will be a third and final opening for him.
But the more likely scenario is that Real will concentrate all their financial might on bringing Eduardo Camavinga and Kylian Mbappe to the club.
Camavinga is 10 years Pogba’s junior and fits the club’s policy of signing players before they turn 20.
They are willing to make an exception for Mbappe, who is 21, but he will need to maintain his current policy of not entering into contract talks with Paris Saint-Germain. His deal expires in 2022.
Madrid president Florentino Perez has already said that players cannot be asked to accept pay cuts if the club then sign top earners.
Mbappe will come in as Real’s highest earner so there’s no way the club can afford a big transfer fee as well.
Real want to make France star Kylian Mbappe, 21, their next ‘Galactico,’ possibly in 2021
The young French star Eduardo Camavinga is another Real target in forthcoming windows
Pogba’s chances of playing alongside Mbappe at Real Madrid anytime soon remain slim
And if the forward comes in 2021, there will be little money left to meet Pogba’s likely salary demands. Pogba is on £290,000-a-week at Old Trafford.
So in order for Pogba’s ‘dream’ to come true, he would have to enjoy an upturn in fortunes on the pitch, not sign a new deal, hope Zidane stayed in charge and hope Madrid fail to bring in Camavinga.
That’s an awful lot of ‘ifs’ and we haven’t factored in the possibility of a United renewal offer.
Fan reaction would be interesting if this offer materialised. United followers are bored of the whole saga already and feel Pogba needs to prove himself all over again.
The constant flirting with Real is incredibly tiresome and it isn’t as though Pogba is producing the performances to entice an offer from anyone, let alone such a powerhouse.
This particular ‘dream’ may have to remain just that.