Sir Alex Ferguson furious as Paul Pogba signs for Juventus
6 March 2012
Manchester United have lost their fight to retain the services of Paul Pogba, the prodigiously talented teenage midfielder regarded by many as the brightest prospect in the Premier League champions' academy.
The France Under 19 international has refused to extend his Old Trafford contract and will instead join Juventus this summer.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who had led exhaustive attempts to persuade Pogba that his career would be best served by staying with United, is said to be "out of his mind" with the Serie A side's actions.
Pogba, 18, was lured by a lucrative contract worth over €1 million (Dh4.8m) a season, while the player's agent Mino Raiola is understood to have agreed a €2m commission on the deal. United will receive Fifa-mandated "training compensation" totalling a few hundred thousand Euros.
Raiola began working with Pogba late last year, swiftly offering him around Europe's richest clubs, including Manchester City. Ferguson responded by asking United captains Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand to convince the midfielder to sign an extension. He also granted Pogba four senior appearances in the Premier League and League Cup.
There will, however, be no more first-team playing or training time for Pogba until he moves to Italy with Ferguson ordering the player to train alone as a punishment for the decision to leave.
Ironically, United acquired Pogba in 2009 in similarly contentious circumstances, his former club Le Havre making a formal, and unsuccessful, complaint to Fifa before accepting an undisclosed sum for the transfer of his registration.
Talking about Pogba following his Premier League debut against Stoke City in late January, Ferguson said: "The boy has great talent and tremendous physique for an 18 year old.
"You can't believe it. We are negotiating his contract at the moment. It is a bit complicated at the moment because he has changed his agent a couple of times. But the boy wants to stay, that is obvious. Hopefully we can get it done soon."
Meanwhile, Ander Herrera, the Athletic Bilbao midfielder, insists his side will go out looking to beat United in tomorrow's Europa League clash and are not going to Old Trafford just to make up the numbers.
He said: "It's a dream that we are going to live a unique situation that maybe throughout your career you only experience once but, clearly, we are going to win, not just turn up."