In a transfer rumour that just refuses to go away even at this very late stage in the window, Juventus and France superstar Paul Pogba has been linked with a move to Premier League giants Chelsea FC
Logic tells you that France international Paul Pogba will almost certainly be a Juventus player at the end of this transfer window, irrespective of the overtures of Chelsea FC and Jos Mourinho. Stranger things have happened in the transfer market, however, and there is just enough in this story to tantalise Blues fans during what will be an exciting final few days of the summer window.
On the face of it, it seems almost inconceivable that the Serie A champions would sell at this late stage – particularly after handing Pogba the iconic Juventus No.10 jersey this season. For the eternal optimist, however, there are signs to suggest that there might just be the faintest glimmer of hope.
Although a big transfer story such as this will understandably take centre stage, perhaps the more salient point it brings to the fore – quite apart from the possibility or the implications of the transfer itself – is Chelsea’s underlying need for a top-quality central midfielder.
Is Pogba to Chelsea FC actually possible this summer?
In short, no. Unfortunately for Blues fans, there is as much chance of the Pogba transfer happening this week as there is of Mourinho and ArsA?ne Wenger suddenly becoming close friends.
In all seriousness, perhaps it is worth breaking down the transfer story to try and look at it from the point of view of Juventus and Chelsea FC as well as the media, the fans, and Paul Pogba himself.
Quite simply, there is no good reason for Juventus to sell Paul Pogba this summer. The France international’s value in the market is unlikely to drop any time soon, and a strong showing at home in the 2016 European Championships in France next summer could well add a few million to his eventual fee. Besides, the Serie A champions will not find a midfielder of the same ability this window; not only because there are very few – if any at all – but also because there is precious little time left to secure a potential replacement.
This begs the question – why entertain any talks on the subject at all? There have been reports in the British media of Chelsea’s supposed ‘confidence’ that the Italians are open to negotiation, and reports from some journalists have indicated that those negotiations have not yet been closed.
Juventus didn’t close the talks with Chelsea for Pogba. Doesn’t mean it will go through.Imho, they’re checking what players could be swapped
a Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) August 27, 2015
It could well be that the reports are inaccurate and that Juventus have, in fact, ended any talks of a potential Pogba sale, but the story simply refuses to go away. There have been no statements from the Juventus hierarchy in the recent past to specifically deny Chelsea talks either. Of course, there is always the possibility that these talks are unilateral and the Bianconeri have simply plugged in their noise-cancelling headphones and turned their attention elsewhere.
It is very simple to determine what the Blues will have to do to sign Paul Pogba this summer: they need only convince Juventus that selling Pogba to them at this stage is a better option for the Italian side than selling him at any other time. That, of course, is much easier said than done.
Chelsea’s transfer team led by Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo are presumably discerning enough to realise when it is worth preparing and making offers for a certain player to a certain club. It would be safe to assume, then, that the Blues at the very least have an inkling that a deal could possibly be done this summer.
Although extremely unlikely, a way to make Juventus pay the slightest bit of attention is by offering an insane amount of money. Essentially, the plan could be to make an offer that the Italians are unlikely to ever receive from another club in the future for Pogba. Whilst not easy, Chelsea do have the financial muscle to pull that off, particularly considering Barcelona appear to be the only other ‘big’ team committed to signing the 22-year-old and as such, there is no real bidding war for the Frenchman.
The other obvious reason the Blues are making a move for him this window is Barcelona’s transfer ban that precludes them from registering players till January 2016. The Catalan giants have already held talks with Juventus for Pogba and reportedly have an agreement in place, and the only way Chelsea could upset that particular apple cart is by blowing that agreement out of the water by offering significantly more money and, perhaps, a player in exchange.
The British media have had plenty to say on the Pogba story, and insist that Chelsea will go back with another offer for the Juventus midfielder before the transfer window shuts. An exciting transfer story such as this is good for business, and as such, might be worth keeping alive for as long as possible. Despite that ulterior motive, however, it is quite possible that the reporting also has some factual basis. Although the Italian media has all but killed the story, their reporting is not necessarily a contradiction to what is being reported in England.
a Indy Football (@IndyFootball) August 26, 2015
One more time: Pogba will not leave Juventus. No Chelsea. #CFC
a Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 26, 2015
In some strange way, it could well be a reflection of how things stand with the two clubs. Perhaps as far as Juventus are concerned, there is nothing to talk about with regards to Pogba – as the Italian media are reporting. From Chelsea’s point of view, the club seem to be making an all-out effort to sign the Frenchman regardless – as reported by the English media.
For the optimistic amongst the Blues’ faithful, there are signs to suggest a deal could be in the offing – not least the keen interest Juventus are taking in the likes of Julian Draxler of Bundesliga club Schalke and central midfielder Axel Witsel of Zenit St. Petersburg.
There has been unanimous agreement in the media that an official bid from Chelsea was in fact received by Juventus and turned down in the past week, and Blues’ fans will be hoping that a second will follow.
Given the sheer celebrity of Pogba – apart from his obvious footballing ability – it is possible that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich might personally get involved in the deal, as was the case with Fernando Torres. Perhaps the signing of the Spaniard on deadline day from Liverpool in 2011 thanks to the Russian’s personal intervention might be another positive for Blues fans to hang on to.
From the point of view of the Frenchman, it is difficult to see why he would prefer making a move to Chelsea now rather than waiting a season and moving to Barcelona to play with the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
Jos Mourinho can – as evidenced by the signings of Cesc F bregas and Pedro from Barcelona – be a very difficult person to turn down, and the Blues themselves are ambitious enough to continue challenging on the domestic front as well as in the Champions League, but are quite clearly not on the level of the Catalan giants.
The financial aspect is perhaps worth mentioning too, but it is hard to imagine their being a chasm between what Barcelona and Chelsea will offer in terms of the contract. A last – extremely tenuous – point in Chelsea’s favour is that Pogba has family in London, visits frequently and is said to love the city. Is it likely to affect his decision greatly? Probably not.
Chelsea need a quality central midfielder
Regardless of whether or not they are able to sign Pogba, what is clear is that Mourinho needs a top central midfielder. Although the Blues’ defensive problems have been well documented, the centre of the park also remains an area of concern – particularly for the ‘bigger’ games in England and in the Champions League.
Nemanja Mati and Cesc F bregas are quality midfield players, but like the first-choice centre-back pairing of Gary Cahill and John Terry, can be exposed due to their lack of pace. The double-pivot is often discarded in matches against the bigger sides anyway, but the likes of Ramires and John Obi Mikel have not really had a telling influence either.
F bregas, for all his creative nous in the attacking third, becomes something of a passenger in games where the Blues decided to sit back and break on teams. Although he has improved defensively, he is still not a physical enough presence to stop better teams from controlling the centre of the park .
A criticism often directed at Mati is his propensity to be drawn out of position by good opposition midfielders, only to then be played around and thus bypassed. The Serbian midfielder would have more freedom to press higher up with a more defensively capable partner.
Although Paul Pogba is not a defensive midfielder, he is not one to shirk his defensive responsibilities, and has the athleticism to run from box to box and contribute at both ends of the pitch. Given the Frenchman’s quality on the ball, it is likely that Mourinho will try and play a more expansive style of football – even against the better teams – as it would be that much more possible to take control of midfield.
A more defensive midfielder would see Mourinho stick to his tried and tested strategy of intentionally ceding possession in non-threatening areas, and trying to prey on the mistakes of teams with quick counter-attacks. Either way, a quality centre-mid would massively improve the Chelsea squad as a whole.
As such, Blues fans will be hoping that there is a Plan B to Paul Pogba, given it will take nothing short of a miracle to land the Frenchman this summer.
Nevertheless, the rumours are unlikely to stop until the 1st of September, and given the inherently optimistic nature of football fans, it should make for an exciting finish to the transfer window for the Chelsea faithful.