Would Man City be wise to sign Paul Pogba on a free? Jamie Redknapp called the deal a “no-brainer” but Jamie Carragher said he “wouldn’t go anywhere near him”.
The World Cup winner is out of contract at Manchester United this summer and is set to leave the club, marking the end of a turbulent six years back at Old Trafford since they made him the world’s most expensive player.
Pogba has received criticism for his performances for United in recent years but he has also been courted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs in that time – and City are now understood to be interested in making him the latest player to cross the Manchester divide.
The 29-year-old has divided opinion throughout his club career and continued to do so in the super sunday studio as the Sky Sports pundits debated whether he would be a good signing for the Premier League leaders.
The case for the deal…
Jamie Redknapp said signing Pogba would be an “incredible move” for City and could provide extra motivation for Pogba, to hit back at the criticism he received while playing for United – their arch-rivals.
He said: “It would be an incredible move and one that if I’m honest I haven’t seen coming. But you have to weigh it up; it’s a free transfer, he’ll have a point to prove because he’s taken a lot of sticks while he’s been at Manchester United.
“I’ve always watched Pep Guardiola in games between United and City, and he’s always gone over to him and had dialogue. He obviously respects him as a player.
“There was talk a few years ago that he might go for him. A player of his quality, no matter what you say about him, as a free transfer – high wages of course but that’s not a problem for Man City – you’d take him in a heartbeat.
“He adds a lot to this team and I think he’d be hungry to come and show what he can do. He lives in the area, it would be an incredible move, a brave move, but I’d love to see that in the Premier League. I think it makes sense all round.”
Redknapp, and former Manchester City defender Micah Richards, admitted Pogba would have to up his work-rate to fit in at the Etihad, but both agreed he would step up to the plate in the environment of the Premier League champions.
“He’ll have to be completely different to the player we’ve seen at United, that’s a fact,” said Redknapp. “He’ll have to play a lot more like he does for France, but he’s not the only one at United.
“Right now, you wouldn’t buy a player there so they can’t all be that bad. But as a free transfer, you’re taking someone who is going to be desperate to do well.
“I think it’s a no-brainer. He scores goals and adds so much to the team, when you also factor they will be losing Fernandinho this summer.”
Richards added: “If he came to Man City, he would work hard. If we’re talking about working hard, if you look at the way Man City play, they win the ball high up so if we’re talking about working hard , he only needs to do five or 10-yard sprints with the rest of the team. They all go as a team. I would take him.”
The case against the deal…
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher also pointed to Pogba’s work-rate as a factor in any City move but said his attitude issues meant Guardiola should steer clear of adding the Frenchman’s undoubted technical ability to his squad.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere near him,” he argued. “You win the league every year, you get 95 to 100 points every year, but Paul Pogba doesn’t work hard enough or as much as these other City players.
“Pep might be able to get it out of him, and there’s no doubt he’s got ability, but when you see the other creative players in the City squad – Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva – these are brilliant players who don’t stop running and don’t stop working from minute one to minute 90.
“That’s what makes Man City what they are. They’re a great team, brilliant manager with great individuals… I’m not doubting his quality but he doesn’t work hard enough. If anyone says he gives 100 per cent in every game, that’s a lie.”
Carragher was challenged that Guardiola’s high demands as a manager would be enough to motivate Pogba to reach the levels he has while playing for France, with whom he won the World Cup in 2018, but the former Liverpool defender was still not convinced that level of commitment would be enough for the relentless nature of City’s dressing room.
He said: “It’s a massive problem for me if it depends on the manager whether a player works hard. If the manager is demanding that from you, it’s because you’re not working hard enough. I can’t get my head around that I played for about five or six managers at Liverpool and it didn’t matter who the manager was in terms of being committed every week.
“Paul Pogba, whether in a French shirt or for Manchester United, shows unbelievable quality and does special things at different times but we’re around six years in or however long he’s been at United and we’re still talking about his best position and who can get the best out of him.”