Record-breaking Pogba deal makes sense for Manchester United

Deutsche Welle
6 Min Read

Pogba is reported to be about to become the world’s second 100-million-euro player. The reported transfer fee has raised eyebrows, but there are several factors to take into account when assessing whether he is worth it.
The transfer fee that is about to be paid for the Frenchman’s services – reported to be more than 115 million euros ($127 million) – has caused quite a stir in the football world, as fans and pundits alike express their views on what is the second transfer deal to surpass the 100-million-euro mark, after Gareth Bale’s move from English side Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013, with many describing it as outrageous. However, many critics have failed to take a few aspects into account.

European football clubs are among the richest sporting institutions on the planet. According to Forbes, as of last year, three of the five most valuable teams in the world are football clubs, with Real Madrid in first place and, Barcelona and Manchester United at fourth and fifth place respectively. It is no coincidence that these three clubs are also responsible for four of the top five transfers ever, with Gonzalo Higuan’s transfer to Juventus being the exception.

It makes sense from a financial point of view. In order to increase their global appeal, thus enhancing their money-making status, clubs have to compete for silverware. And with football becoming ever more demanding due to a growing number of games being played per season by the top clubs, this requires keeping a larger number of top quality players under contract than ever before.

Percentage matters

Furthermore, clubs in Europe have seen their financial prowess grow steadily over the past two decades, which has resulted in them having more cash to spend on players and staff. The Deloitte Football Money League suggests that Manchester United’s income has increased by more than a 100 percent since the 1999-00 season, from 217.2 million 16 years ago euros to 519.5 last season. There’s hardly a co-relation with the world’s record transfer fee,whch has jumped by less than 34 percent during the same period.

Once a club generates more money, it also means that the transfer fees it pays make up a smaller portion o the club’s balance. Pogba’s reported transfer fee would amount to just 23 percent of the club’s revenue, while Gareth Bale’s 2013 transfer was a mere 18 percent of Real Madrid’s total income. As a point of comparison, previous transfer-fee record holder Zinedine Zidane’s price amounted to more than 54 percent of Real Madrid’s income in 2001. Four out of five of the top transfers in terms of fee divided by the club’s total income took place between 1999 and 2001. So in that regard, believe it or not, clubs are actually going about their transfer business in a muc more sensible manner than they did at the beginning of the 21st century.

Huge financial potential

Such transfers also bring with them huge potential in terms of generating revenue. Pogba’s superstar status is bound to generate large amounts of money for the club, especially given the fact the Red Devils are also reported to have purchased the French midfielder’s image rights. According to reports in the UK, Manchester United expect Pogba to generate a hefty 40 million pounds (47 million euros, $52 million) a year for the club, figure that would cover the player’s transfer fee in less than three years.

And then there’s the prospect of a future transfer fee. While Pogba is already one of the world’s top midfield players, he is only 23, which probably means he will develop his game even further in the years to come. If that turns out to be the case, the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona can be expected to start their pursuing antics. This is not a new experience for Manchester United, after the club sold Cristiano Ronaldo for a then-record of 94 million euros back in 2009. If the Spanish giants come calling at some point, a fee of at least 50 percent more than that may not be all that far-fetched.

While the reported sum of money that will be invested in Pogba is unhead of, the bigger picture suggests that the deal actually makes sense for Manchester United in financial terms. Now there’s just the small matter of the French midfielder justifying it on the pitch.

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