Pogba leaves Man Utd: Where next for the World Cup winner after Old Trafford departure confirmed?

By Sports Desk June 01, 2022

With Manchester United confirming Paul Pogba is to leave the club as a free agent, six years on from his £89million return and a decade after his first departure, talk will inevitably turn to the midfielder's next destination.

Could a return to Juventus - the club where he won four consecutive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2016 - reignite Pogba's career, or would a move to newly crowned European champions Real Madrid hold greater appeal?

If not, could Pogba, who was born in a Paris suburb and enjoyed the greatest moment of his career when lifting the World Cup with France in 2018, join a host of other big names at Paris Saint-Germain? 

Or could the 29-year old choose to make one of the most controversial moves in Premier League history by joining United's cross-city rivals Manchester City?

As Pogba weighs up his next move, Stats Perform looks at four potential destinations for the enigmatic midfielder.

The return: Could Pogba refresh a flagging Juventus? 

Juventus is the club that made Pogba's career, with the midfielder making 178 appearances during a trophy-laden four-year spell under Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri, starring alongside the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio as the Bianconeri dominated Serie A.

With Allegri back at the helm and Juventus requiring fresh energy in midfield after consecutive fourth-placed finishes in Serie A, could Pogba be a key part of the Bianconeri rebuild? He's certainly not shown an aversion to returning to former clubs in the past.

The European champions: Is Pogba the man to succeed Blancos legends?

Having won a record-extending 14th European title by beating Liverpool last week, Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid don't appear to be in dire need of reinforcements. 

However, the aging midfield trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro cannot go on forever – Modric, along with team-mates Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal, equalled Cristiano Ronaldo's record of five Champions League titles this term. With president Florentino Perez still smarting from Kylian Mbappe's public rejection of Madrid, adding Pogba to Los Blanco's stacked engine room could also fulfil his need for a marquee signing. 

The homecoming: Will PSG's new project appeal?

Mbappe's decision to remain in the French capital was presented as a monumental coup for PSG, and given their penchant for adding star names, could a move for his France team-mate Pogba now make sense?

Pogba, who managed more Premier League assists (38) and chances created (231) than any other United player since re-joining in 2016, could be the man to add some creativity to a workmanlike midfield featuring the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Danilo Pereira, and Ander Herrera, as PSG look for the right combination to win their first European crown.

The controversial move: Could Pogba follow in Tevez's footsteps? 

Having already wrapped up the coveted signature of Erling Haaland, Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has confirmed the Premier League champions are targeting more incomings in the upcoming transfer window, while rumours linked Pogba with a stunning cross-city switch last month.

While Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said City should not go "anywhere near" the Frenchman, Pogba would likely excel in Pep Guardiola's technically gifted side. Replicate Carlos Tevez's infamous move from red to blue? He couldn't, could he? 

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  • 'Ronaldo to Atletico, why not?' – Guti believes Real Madrid legend could make controversial LaLiga return 'Ronaldo to Atletico, why not?' – Guti believes Real Madrid legend could make controversial LaLiga return

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid would make a "good pairing" despite his Real Madrid past, according to Los Blancos great Guti.

    Ronaldo began Manchester United's Premier League opener against Brighton and Hove Albion on the bench on Sunday, having missed the majority of the Red Devils' pre-season campaign after reportedly expressing his desire to join a Champions League side.

    With the likes of Bayern Munich quickly ruling out a move for the 37-year-old, Atletico were touted as a potential destination for Ronaldo, who leads Madrid's all-time goalscoring charts after netting 450 times for Los Blancos between 2009 and 2018.

    Those reports were not well received by Atletico supporters, however, some of whom unveiled a banner reading 'CR7 not welcome' during a pre-season friendly against Numancia.

    Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has also refuted suggestions Ronaldo could make the controversial move, but former Madrid midfielder Guti is surprisingly enthusiastic about the prospect.

    "If in this case he decides to come to Atletico Madrid, why not? It's a great team, he's a great striker," Guti told DAZN. 

     

    "Atletico Madrid needs a good striker and why not? I think it would be a good pairing.

    "It would be strange, because Madrid loves him very much, because he is a very loved player. I think that the Real Madrid fans wouldn't mind. I think that everything Cristiano had to give to Real Madrid, he already gave.

    "If he feels happy being able to play in a great team like Atletico Madrid and in the Spanish league, which I think he wants, why not?"

    Ronaldo has earnt a reputation as chief tormentor of Atletico throughout his illustrious career; the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 25 goals in 37 competitive appearances against Los Colchoneros, including a late penalty in Madrid's 4-1 extra-time Champions League final win in 2014.

  • Ancelotti hails career-best season, will start Champions League final line-up in Super Cup Ancelotti hails career-best season, will start Champions League final line-up in Super Cup

    Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti thinks last season was the best of his illustrious career, after celebrating success in LaLiga and the Champions League.

    Ancelotti was appointed as successor to Zinedine Zidane in June 2021 in something of a surprise move.

    The Italian had seemed satisfied with life at Everton, though he had only managed to lead the Premier League club to 12th and 10th-placed finishes in his 18 months at Goodison Park.

    Ancelotti was a popular figure with fans and players alike during his initial spell at Santiago Bernabeu, taking Madrid to 'La Decima' - their tenth Champions League title - in 2014, but he was dismissed in 2015, with Los Blancos having finished second in LaLiga and exiting the Champions League in the semi-finals.

    Having triumphed in every other major European league, LaLiga success had evaded Ancelotti until his return to Madrid, who cruised to the title in Spain's top flight last season.

    European glory then came in the form of a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the Stade de France at the end of May, making Ancelotti the first coach in history to win the Champions League four times (twice with Milan, twice with Madrid).

    Ahead of the Super Cup against Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, Ancelotti reflected on last season as his best as a coach.

    "I think so, it was the best I had in my career. I was never able to win the league and Champions League [double]," he told a news conference.

    "My players were able to reach this through a fantastic combination – spirit, attitude, quality, experience and enthusiasm of the youngsters.

    "For all these reasons we were able to beat strong teams."

    Asked what Madrid's goals are heading into this season, Ancelotti replied: "We're going to battle on all fronts in every competition, I have no doubts about that.

    "I am confident in all of the players here, considering last year, I think the squad has improved further."

    Madrid have brought in Antonio Rudiger from Chelsea and Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco, but neither of their new signings will start on Wednesday against Frankfurt, with Ancelotti revealing the same team that lined up against Liverpool in Paris will take to the field.

    "We are here down to the hard work of the players who won the Champions League," said Ancelotti, who was joined in his news conference by Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

    "We didn't just win with 11 players who are going to start tomorrow, of course there are others who deserve to play, but we can only start 11, and I'm going to play the team that started in Paris."

    With a smile and trademark lift of an eyebrow, he quipped: "I think the two players who are next to me are going to start, if they want to!"

  • Benzema altered his 'game and ambitions' when Ronaldo left Real Madrid Benzema altered his 'game and ambitions' when Ronaldo left Real Madrid

    Cristiano Ronaldo helped Karim Benzema "on and off the pitch" while at Real Madrid, but Los Blancos' current talisman knew he could do more when his former team-mate departed.

    Ronaldo is Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer, having netted 450 times in all competitions between 2009 and 2018, when he joined Juventus.

    Benzema has since picked up the mantle, however, scoring a remarkable 131 goals in the past four seasons. While Ronaldo's Manchester United future is in doubt, his old strike partner is thriving.

    Of players in Europe's top five leagues last term, only Robert Lewandowski (50) – who will go up against Benzema in LaLiga after his switch from Bayern Munich to Barcelona – scored more goals in all competitions than the France forward, who averaged a goal every 88 minutes.

    Asked ahead of the Super Cup clash with Eintracht Frankfurt whether Ronaldo's exit had directly benefited his own form, Benzema told a news conference: "It's true I've scored more goals but when Cristiano was here we had a different style, I provided more assists and he helped me on and off the pitch.

    "I knew I could do more [at the time] and when he left it was the time to change my game and ambitions, I'm doing that at the moment."

     

    Benzema's form has seen him emerge as a favourite to win this year's Ballon d'Or, a bid only strengthened by Madrid's success in LaLiga and the Champions League last campaign.

    But the striker is simply focused on his team's exploits, adding: "I'm not like that in terms of whether I'm the best or not, I always give my all for this club, the best club in the world.

    "I have to give more and more every year, it's true I had a very good season, but other people can comment on if I'm the best in the world. I'm focused on helping my team in matches, that's all I can say.

    "I'm not thinking about [the Ballon d'Or], there's trophies to win every year, that's very important. I always stress the importance of success for the team that leads to individual success."

    For Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, there is little doubt that he has the best forward in world football at his disposal.

    Asked if Madrid, who wanted to sign Kylian Mbappe before Benzema's compatriot signed a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain, needed to bring in a back-up striker before the transfer window closes, Ancelotti replied: "We have strikers, plenty of them. Benzema, Mariano [Diaz], [Eden] Hazard, Rodrygo, Vinicius [Junior], have I forgotten any?

    "When you're missing the best striker in the world, there are alternatives, but it's impossible to replace Benzema, no player in the world can replace Karim. If anything happens, we will adapt."

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