Tag Archives: Paul Pogba

Arsenal correct to stop pursuit of Monaco star

£143,000,000 is a lot for any footballer. It is 66% more than the world record transfer fee that Manchester United recently paid for Paul Pogba.

For that price, you would expect Lionel Messi. Perhaps Neymar. At a stretch Gareth Bale or Luis Suarez. It is possibly a bit too much for 32 year old Cristiano Ronaldo.

In summary, for a world record price, you would expect one of the best players in the world. An established global superstar. Someone who will come in and win you the league. Will score near enough a goal a game. Will break all sorts of goal scoring records.

What you would not expect for that price is an 18 year old striker with just 19 starts in the French Ligue 1. But that is what Kylian Mbappe is set to go for.

Now there is no doubting his potential. He is an extremely gifted player with a bright future, if everything works out. But What Real Madrid and others are paying for is not an established star, but for what he might become.

There are a lot of obstacles from being a talented youngster to becoming a global superstar.

When you look at the winners of the Golden Ball since its inception in 2003, how many of the players have kicked on to become a truly global superstar.

Now I am not talking about just become a very good player, I am talking about becoming one of the best in the world. The level where you are being considered for the Ballon d’Or. That they are considered in not just the top 2 players in their position, but they are considered as one of the best players in the world, regardless of their position.

Of the 14 players to have won the Golden Ball, only really Lionel Messi has gone on to become a legend of the game. Sergio Aguero is borderline. I probably would consider him one of the greatest strikers of the last 8 years- although injury has probably held him back from reaching the top bracket.

Injury, one of the many things that can stop a player going from being a top youngster to a global superstar. What ha soften set the likes of Messi and Ronaldo apart is their fitness record. Over the last 10 years, Messi has averaged 50 games a season for the last 10 years. Ronaldo has averaged 50 games a year since he joined Manchester United, way back in 2003.

Since joining Manchester City, Sergio Aguero has averaged 40 games a season, and that is what has held him back.

The likes of Wayne Rooney & Cesc Fabregas have had glorious careers. But you feel they peaked in their early 20s and never really kicked on to be amongst the best global players of their generation.

Rafael van der Vaart ended up with a bit of a journeyman career.

Anderson, Alexandre Pato and Mario Balotelli all highlight that being a top youngster does not always guarantee being a top senior pro. All have had big money transfer. They are aged between 26 and 29 and should in the peak of their careers.

Anderson (29) is currently at Brazilian side Coritiba, on loan from Internacional. Mario Balotelli (26) is playing for Nice in France. And Alexandre Pato (27), plays for Tianjin Quanjian in China.

Isco is a slow burner. He took a bit of a wrong move joining Real Madrid, where he struggled to break through, but he is now flourishing. But I doubt if he will ever reach the level that Cesc Fabregas was at his best, let alone the level of a Xavi or Iniesta, and certainly not reach the heights of a Zinedine Zidane.

The likes of Mario Götze and Raheem Sterling have certainly not lived up to their big billing as a teenager. Gotze dumped by Bayern Munich after a big money transfer, Sterling just not pushed on since joining Manchester City. Renato Sanches and Anthony Martial are both in danger of following the same route.

Then you have Paul Pogba. A bit of an enigma. The current holder of the world record transfer fee. At times he is unplayable. A mix of strength and technique. But he has yet to do what Yaya Toure did. And is not yet fit to clean Patrick Vieira’s boots. For him to justify his transfer fee, he has to surpass these two players achievements.

So the road to stardom is not guaranteed for Kylian Mbappe. At £144m, Real Madrid, Man City, or whoever buys him, will be paying for what he might become. They are spending the big money on the basis that they hope he is a 50-goal a season man by the time he is 21. The heir apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne.

But he is not yet Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored just 15 league goals last season. He still has a long way to go. He is not the even the best striker in Ligue 1 – last season he finished behind Edison Cavani, Alexandre Lacazette, Radamel Falcao and Swansea flop Bafétimbi Gomis in the top scorer charts.

Mbappe was level with previous top youngster Balotelli, Newcastle flop Florian Thauvin and Ivan Santini, whoever that is.

Would you be happy spending £144m on Balotelli, Thauvin or Santini? The answer would be no. You would be disappointed if your side spent anymore than £20m on those players.

You would not consider paying above £60m for Cavani. Arsenal signed the superior Lacazette for around £45m. And how much would you be willing to splash out on previous Premier League flops Falcao and Gomis?

So Real Madrid (or whoever go’s for Mbappe) is certainly not paying the £144m Mbappe as the player he is now, but as the player that Mbappe could become. And as we have established, there is no guarantee of a top youth player becoming a top player.

For someone like Arsenal, not signing Mbappe is the right move.

If he becomes a £144m player, then fair enough. We will all moan about how we could have signed him in 2016 for £265k – although I do not know why this criticism is always labelled at Arsenal, every club could have got him for this amount in 2016. Mbappe decided to stay. Arsenal did not miss out.

But if (for example) he stays at Monaco for a year, and he fails to score 30 league goals, would he still be worth £144m? Or would that price start to dwindle a bit to represent his true value rather than his potential?

And if he joins Real Madrid (or Manchester City, or whoever) for £144m, and flops, he will be available in a couple of years for half the price, or more. If he does not score that 50 goals a season, does not break into that top bracket, he will still be a top player, but his value would then represent what he is actually worth, not what he might be worth.

To finish, a story of a young lad from Chester. The year was 1997. He was just about to have his breakthrough season. He was just 17.

At 18 he had the world at his feet. He had scored 23 goals in 44 games in the 1997/98 season for his boyhood club. That summer he was to score a wonder goal for his country at the World Cup. He exploded into the world’s conscience.

What followed were 4 injury hit seasons, when only once did he play over 30 league games. He never once scored over 20 league goals, and by 24 his hamstrings were shot. His fitness did not stop him getting a big money move at 24 to Real Madrid. He lasted a single season before being sold to Newcastle. A talented player, but he could not get fit.

He ended up finishing his career at Stoke City.

At 18 he was expected to become a world great. Break every record going. Lead Liverpool to multiple titles. It is ironic that his only league title came at bitter rivals Manchester United as a bit part player. And whilst he won the Ballon d’Or in 2001 at just 21, you feel his career never reached the heights expected as a 18 year old.

Michael Owen could have been one of the greatest of all time. But he never lived to his potential.

At £144m, I would expect to be getting the real deal. Not some youngster with potential. Arsenal are best off missing out.


The REAL reason why Jose Mourinho “rejected” Alexandre Lacazette

Reports today that Manchester United scouts went back to Jose Mourinho with poor reports on Arsenal’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette, which in turn lead to Jose Mourinho rejecting a deal for him and instead signing Romelu Lukaku.

What a load of old bollocks. There is one reason, and one reason only, why Mourinho went for Lukaku instead of Lacazette.

Mino Raiola.

Riola is the Italian-born Dutch football agent who has become very rich in recent years moving his clients around Europe, and pocketing himself millions in the process.

He has become Jose Mourinho’s agent of choice in the last 12 months, with him being involved in the Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku deals.

The Paul Pogba deal alone will potentially make Raiola £41.39m.

£22.8m of this has come from Juventus as part of the £89m fee paid by Manchester United. Whilst this is paid by Juventus, Manchester United would have had to have paid the Italian side an additional £22.8m as part of the transfer fee to cover this.

Had Juventus not had to have paid such a big amount to Raiola, Manchester United would not have had to have paid so much to them.

You then have 5 future instalments of £16.39m paid to Raiola. It is not clear if Manhcester United are paying for these direct, or through Juventus. But ultimately Manchester United will be footing the bill.

Finally Paul Pogba is set to make a payment of £2.2m to his agent. Once again this would come from the signing on fee that Manchester United have paid to Paul Pogba. Like the Juventus deal, Manchester United have had to pay Pogba more to cover what he pays to Raiola.

One way or another, Manchester United have paid £41.39m to Mino Raiola.

In the 2016/17 season, Manchester United paid £19m to agents.

Last season they signed Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Mkhitaryan & Eric Bailly. Only Bailly was no a Raiola client.

Now Pogba’s agents fees are outlined above. The only payment made direct from Manchester United to Raiola would be the first portion of the 5 instalments. If equally spread over the 5 years, this would be £3.27m. That then leaves £15.72m across the other 3 players.

Split this equally – and I am sure this will be underestimating – Manchester United would have paid around £11m of the £19m to Raiola for Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan.

We then come to Romelu Lukaku.

Reports earlier in the summer were that he was on the way to Chelsea. But the London side stalled on the deal after they were unwilling to pay the agents fee that Raiola was demanding. Manchester United then snuck in and did a deal. The agents fee was reported to be £12m.

So another £12m paid to Raiola this summer, on top of the £11m paid for Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan last summer. Add the £3.27m paid for Pogba, the £2.2m paid “by” Pogba, and the £22.8m paid “by” Juventus, Manchester United have paid £51.27m to Mino Raiola since Jose Mourinho took over as manager.

£51.27m. Let that sink in a little bit.

You have to wonder why Mourinho clearly favours a single agent, and a single agent who ends up pocketing so much of Manchester United’s money.

Jose Mourinho is currently facing tax fraud charges in Spain. Leaked documents suggested that Mourinho’s own agent, Jorge Mendes was involved in a massive tax avoidance scheme with both Mourinho and Ronaldo accused of not paying taxes by using offshore accounts.

Alexandre Lacazette is not advised by Mino Raiola. If Raiola was Lacazette’s agent, you feel he would have joined Manchester United.

Raiola is Mourinho’s agent of choice at the moment.


The Catch-22 of Serge Gnabry’s New Contract

Serge Gnabry is a brilliant young player. Certainly one of the best teenagers in the Premier League. Arguably one of the best in Europe. Now I am not going all hyper-boil on you all. As previously mentioned, the overrating of young players is an epidemic in the current game. Gnabry is supremely talented.

Yesterday it was announced that he had signed a new 5 year deal worth £20,000 a week. Some are reporting that it is a 6 year deal. Now whilst it is good that we have tied up his long term future, the announcement of the deal brings up a catch-22 problem.

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

Firstly, Serge Gnabry has signed for £20,000 a week. That is a lot of money. Remember, he is an 18 year old, who whilst extremely talented, has played just 9 games for Arsenal, 5 of which were from the bench. A total of 398 minutes. £20,000 for less than 400 minutes playing time. The fact is, were every player fit, Serge Gnabry would be playing in the reserves. He would not get near the bench. We are potentially tying up £20,000 a week on potential, on someone who might not play a single game once Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski are fit. £1million a year for someone who is a reserve.

Now I know full well what the contract is about. We are tying up his future. Ensuring we do not lose a prestigious talent on a free. Look at the situation of Paul Pogba who left Manchester United for Juventus. They failed to invest in his future, and ended up losing him. He is now a starter for the Italian side and would certainly improve the Manchester United side. In a summer where they spent £28 million on Marouane Fellaini, it does not take a genius that for a lot less, they could have secured Pogba for the future – a player who is perhaps as good as Fellaini already, and will only get better. The same summer they also lost Ravel Morrison on a free to West Ham.

Manchester United showed they learnt their lesson after securing youngster Adnan Januzaj to a new contract. Like Gnabry, he has signed a 5 year deal, but at twice the amount – £30,000-40,000 a week (depending on sources). That perhaps brings the Gnabry deal into perspective. Clearly the average wage of a talented youngster who has not played a great deal of 1st team football is £20,000-£40,000 a week. Supported further by Pogba being paid £20,000 a week at Juventus. Clearly the ‘going rate’ has been set.

So to secure a young talent for his future, you must pay that youngster at least £20,000 a year. Fail to do that, and he will leave on a free. Imagine if we lost Gnabry on a free. The out roar there would be then. We would be moaning about our managements gross negligence. We would complain that our cheapness has lost us a top talent.

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

And here is the catch-22 situation. Gnabry is 18. He has just signed a £20,000 a week 5 year deal. If he puts his feet up now,stops working hard at his game and becomes lazy, he will walk away in 5 years with £5,000,000 in his pocket. We often read about players getting ‘too much, too young’. That such large amounts of money can damage a players motivation. That players are pampered – they no longer clean the stadium ,changing room or boots – and the money gives them an ego which makes them believe they have made it so stop trying.

Now this is not a generic brush stroke. Plenty of players have been on big money young, and continue to work hard at their game and succeed. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are two recent examples of this, as is Carl Jenkinson. Despite getting good money, they have continued to improve as players.

But there is also a list of players who have lost motivation after getting big money. The mid-2000’s is littered with players who were nicknamed the ‘Baby Bentley’ generation. The first group of youngsters who got thousands as a teenager, clearly too their foot off the gas, spent more time partying, less time training, bought Baby Bentley’s and failed to fulfil their potential.

Alan Curbishley was the first to coin the term about the Baby Bentley generation, when he believed that players earning northwards of £20,000 had lost motivation and direction. That they often visited the likes of nightclub Face in Gants Hill too often. And he has been proved right as none of the players who were part of the ‘core group’ at West Ham ever really fulfilled their potential – Bobby Zamora, Carlton Cole, Anton Ferdinand, Tyrone Mears, and Nigel Reo-Coker. You can add the likes of Jermaine Defoe. Ledley King and Jermaine Pennant to the list too. All players with incredible talent, of similar age, who were more interested in cars and girls then improving as footballers.

The problem is also at Arsenal. Nicklas Bendtner definetely lost motivation after signing his famour £53,000 a week deal. The same day Denilson also signed a new long term deal, reportedly on £45,000.

Denilson is perhaps the best example we have at Arsenal about a drop in motivation. He signed for Arsenal at the age of 17 on a 5 year deal. 14 months later, he signed a new contract, once again a 5 year deal. He had played less than 30 games for the club! Then, in 2009, he was offered another contract. Another 5 year deal. His original 5 year deal signed in 2006 would still have had 2 years to run. Yet he was given 2 large pay rises. No wonder he took his foot off the pedal. Getting a new contract was easy. And here he was, at 21, with the next 5 years of his life secure. £11million in his bank without even having to try ever again.

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

Picture: @KieranCPhotoAFC

The most recent player to suffer from this is Emmanuel Frimpong. He signed, like Gnabry, a £20,000 a week deal as a teenager. Whilst he has had a string of injuries, a poor attitude and a higher motivation to print t-shirts, hang out with Lethal Bizzle and be a general knob have been the main reasons he has failed at Arsenal. With his contract due to expire in 2014, it is unlikely he will be offered a new one. He is very reminiscent of the West Ham Baby Bentley generation. More interested in outside interests then his football.

Will Gnabry’s motivation drop now he has secured the next 5 years of his life? Will he go out tomorrow and buy the 2013 version of the Baby Bentley? Will he turn up to training all blinged up? Will he suddenly let the world know that he is Tinnie Tempah’s cousin and start releasing t-shirts with his own catch phrase on them? Or will he knuckle down and fulfil his great potential?

At the end of the day, it is about risk. Is it worth signing up a Denilson to a long term deal to ensure you do not lose a Ramsey. Or sign do you decide against offering Frimpong a new deal at 17 and also fail to offer Wilshere? Do you end up losing a Pogba, or do you end up keeping a Bendtner? It is a catch-22 scenario.

So this is what clubs face. Play hard ball against a youngster, and risk losing a top talent, or bow down to his demands, and end tying up a large(ish)money for a long period in a player who fails to make the grade after losing motivation to perform.


Thanks to  for the pictures.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goonerpower and https://www.facebook.com/KieranCPhoto