Despite criticism from managers in the Premier League, Manchester United great Gary Neville believes Paul Pogba’s world-record £89million transfer from Juventus could turn out to be a bargain.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp particularly aired concerns over the extravagant fee, claiming he is instead trying to build a “real team”, but the former Valencia coach and now TV pundit said it is a return to the Manchester United swagger of old.
“Manchester United have always broken transfer records for players who are of a certain age, just below their peak. Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney spring to mind,” Neville told the Mirror.
“But they are getting back to that blueprint with Pogba. He is two or three years short of his peak, but he is a profile signing the club would normally make.
“Now, to expect him to be like Bryan Robson or Keane would be placing far too much expectation upon him. But if Pogba gets anywhere near those levels – those of Robson and Keane – in five or six years’ time, he will be looked upon as cheap.”
In 2002, Manchester United spent a total £34m for Rio Ferdinand to make him the most expensive footballer in British history, and world’s most expensive defender, at the time.
Two years later, United splashed £25.6m to sign Wayne Rooney from Everton, making it the highest fee ever paid for a player under 20.
According to Neville, their transfer fees were deemed vindicated after time, and Pogba’s will meet a similar validation if he performs.
He added: “That’s just how Ferdinand and Rooney are considered. Look at Rio. At the time – everyone went, ‘£30m for a centre-back, wow!’
“For £89m, Pogba will be expected to win big games. He has to grab those games by the scruff and wins big games of football. At Manchester United, you have to win your team big matches.”