Manchester United can expect to recoup most of the world-record fee they paid for Paul Pogba in commercial revenue the midfielder generates, according to a leading football financial expert.
The Frenchman’s return to Old Trafford from Juventus for €104m was sealed in the early hours of yesterday morning after weeks of social media teasers and speculation.
The 23-year-old signed a five-year deal with Mourinho’s side and the impact of the adidas-sponsored midfielder’s arrival is expected to stretch beyond the pitch in terms of financial gains too.
Rob Wilson, a football finance expert at Sheffield Hallam University, believes Pogba’s marketability will allow United to make considerable returns on their initial outlay.
“It’s safe say the commercial activity will be significant, he will generate huge revenue from all sorts of things,” Wilson said.
“He’s already endorsed by adidas and this helps the alignment of the brand, as they make the kit, so it’s good news for adidas as well.
“Over the course of his contract, the revenue generated using Paul Pogba will eclipse the fee they’ve had to pay for him; whether it eclipses his wages is another matter, that depends on his development over the next couple of years, and Manchester United’s development too.
“He’s entering that elite bracket of players, the commercial big boys like (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Lionel) Messi, Neymar, (Gareth) Bale - Pogba’s probably the next guy.”
Confirmation of Pogba’s transfer came after midnight on these shores, though that meant it coincided with two lucrative markets, breaking in the morning over in the Far East and in the evening in America.
“It was a shrewd move by them,” Wilson added.
“Normally you’d see it announced in the morning over here to tie in with New York Stock Exchange. It was for those markets, for the US or the Far East, to make sure of the exposure.
“When adidas took over the kit contract, the activity they got from social media and TV with their ‘Break Expectations’ campaign was the biggest launch in football history.
“The views they had were off the scale and they will have used that intelligence with Pogba. The sheer number of images this morning points to the fact they wanted maximum exposure.”
Wilson believes the arrivals of Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has given United two “iconic players” they have been missing since Ronaldo and David Beckham were on their books.
And Pogba also has a huge draw on social media, with a series of adidas adverts and a video with rapper Stormzy being used to increase the hype surrounding his return.
“The Pogba thing is synonymous with new media, it resonates with the new-age commercial deals,” Wilson said.
POGBA: HOW GOOD IS HE?
What happened when he was at the club before?
After arriving from Le Havre in 2009 as a 16-year-old, Pogba went on to play a key role in the 2010-11 FA Youth Cup triumph and was viewed as a rising star likely to be a future first-team regular. But he departed in the summer of 2012 to join Juventus, having made only seven senior appearances, all from the bench, and turned down an offer from United of a new contract. Then Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson said he did not think Pogba "showed us any respect at all" and has also described his own relationship with the player’s agent Mino Raiola as being "like oil and water". In 2014, Pogba himself said he thought United showed him "disrespect" - although he now says he feels "happy" to have "come back home".
So how good is he now?
Pretty good - as his CV would suggest. Pogba helped Juventus win Serie A in each of his four seasons with them, in the last two they also claimed the Coppa Italia, he was almost celebrating a treble in 2015 when they reached the Champions League final only to be beaten by Barcelona, plus he was part of the France side who were runners up at Euro 2016. And in terms of his specific attributes, he really is quite the package: a dynamic box-to-box midfielder blessed with flair, fine tackling and passing ability and a goalscoring threat.
Is he worth the money?
Remains to be seen. But United have splashed out on a player who in many ways is exactly the kind they need on the pitch. Pogba is still young, and should settle quickly given his familiarity with the club and English football - plus he comes with the added bonus of being, due to his considerable global profile, a highly marketable name. The fee is obviously huge but it is in keeping with the current football landscape, and one can only imagine United, as they look to reassert themselves, will very much enjoy having the status symbol that is having the world’s most expensive player in their team.
What are United’s prospects with him on board?
With Pogba back at the club alongside the likes of fellow summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, all working under new boss Jose Mourinho, things are certainly looking exciting for United. And there are plenty of reasons to believe the newest recruit can keep his run of league title triumphs going in 2016-17 - although with the way other clubs are shaping up at the same time, it is looking like the hardest Premier League season yet for predicting champions.
What seems beyond doubt is that United will have a better team for the addition of Pogba, who has made no secret of his own lofty ambitions for the years ahead: winning the Premier League, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.
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