Manchester United’s world record Paul Pogba transfer will prove a gamble worth taking if they win the Premier League, former Arsenal star Ray Parlour has said.
Jose Mourinho’s side announced the signing of the France international on a five-year deal from Juventus in the early hours of Tuesday, with United reported to have paid a fee that could rise to as much as £93million.
The news of Pogba’s return to Old Trafford was followed a few hours later by Manchester City’s confirmation of the signing of John Stones from Everton, with Pep Guardiola’s side believed to have paid close to £50m for the England international.
Eyebrows have been raised over the staggering sums paid for both young players during a remarkable transfer window, which has already seen Juventus spend a club record €90m on Gonzalo Higuain, and 30-year-old Hulk seal a €55.8m switch to Shanghai SIPG.
Parlour, winner of three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups with Arsenal, admits that such high fees are alarming but feels Mourinho will be vindicated if Pogba leads United to a title triumph.
Speaking after the launch of the Football Supporter Federation’s ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign with Virgin Media, he told Omnisport: “Most fans will look at it and say the fees are unbelievable.
“[Romelu] Lukaku is being talked about for £70million, Higuain went for £75-80million, obviously Pogba. He’s an excellent player, there’s no doubt he’ll improve Manchester United.
“It’s a situation where sometimes you just have to pay the money. It’s the day and age of football. This is how the Premier League has developed, it’s the revenue the clubs are earning, you’ve got the TV deal coming in. If you go down next year, you might still earn £100million.
“Pogba, you might say, is well over-priced, but if he wins the league then it’s money well spent. The other way, the prices are certainly inflated, but that’s the market. Sometimes you have to take a gamble. Jose said ‘look, we need a player like him, and whatever price he is, we have to pay it’.”
Behind the scenes with @PaulPogba…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 9, 2016
Parlour, who is helping to champion a campaign which has seen Southampton cut ticket costs to £20 for away fans this season, believes measures to make watching football more affordable are particularly important during an era of inflated transfer fees.
“This game is all about fans,” he said. “When they look at all the prices, these guys are from working-class backgrounds and it’s very difficult at times.
“We want to see more passionate fans. There’s a better atmosphere, better banter when there are more away fans. It makes it a better spectacle for everyone – even around the world. It could make the Premier League even bigger. They want to see the best players.
“I think we have to give a little back to the fans and this scheme is fantastic. These clubs have so much money now, the fans will respect the clubs who go into this scheme.
“A lot of my friends go to away games and spend a lot of money. Some of them can’t afford it but they love their team. This gives them a chance to enjoy the football and watch these top-class stars, like Pogba or whoever else comes into the league.”
Ray Parlour was speaking during the launch of Virgin Media and Football Supporters Federation’s partnership, Twenty’s Plenty, which will cut ticket costs to £20 for away fans at St Mary’s this season.