Depending on your choice of website or barstool conversation, Italian soccer is either dead or simply dealing with a really severe case of pneumonia. For any number of reasons — weakened finances, match-fixing, sub-standard catering — Serie A just isn’t the desirable destination for players it once was. As such, holding on to young, promising talent will prove difficult in upcoming transfers windows.
Mega-clubs are either diligent (if you’re a fan), opportunists (if you read the Wall Street Journal for fun) or vultures (if you’re pissed because you support a club with no money). They know the walls are crumbling and now is the time to invade. The crown jewel of the young Serie A talent collection is undoubtedly Juventus’ Paul Pogba, and the marauders and pirates of Europe have set sail to snatch him out of Turin.
There is one ship that hasn’t left port, apparently. If you believe Carlo Ancelotti — and who doesn’t trust Uncle Carlo — Real Madrid is the one club on the planet who can afford Pogba’s rumored $100 million transfer value, but don’t have any interest in his signature.
“He is a great player and can play wherever he wants to, but we are not interested for now.” – Carlo Ancelotti
Seems like a harmless comment, even if it is a bold-faced lie. Real Madrid is the same club who spent a few years of Space Race NASA’s budget to sign a man who played for Tottenham professionally (on purpose) only to have his name changed to “Still Not Isco” and watch him slowly wither into nothingness. Suddenly Real Madrid is too good to blow a hundred million on the best young player in the world?
Playing the ride-or-die role for his client, Pogba agent Mino Raiola responded to the comments the way any good representative should, with vitriol and hyperbole:
“Ancelotti? Perfect. Real Madrid does not interest us either. In fact I have never been in contact with them, nor have I asked: Please, do you want to sign Pogba?”
Translation: “Who asked you, bruh? Paul wasn’t trying to come to your nasty little club anyway. Who is Real Madrid? I don’t know ’em. Nobody on my block is wearing Real Madrid jerseys, fam.”
“We do not want to go to a club like Real Madrid, we want to go to a team that trusts in the potential of Pogba.”
“Real Madrid buy players like you buy towels and then they get rid of them, also like a towel, …”
“Madrid paid a lot for a player just because he had six good matches at a World Cup.”
Towels! What does Real Madrid really have to offer Paul Pogba anyway? Gareth Bale is off in a corner somewhere, rocking back and forth, holding a teddy bear named Confidence. The clock to Chicharito’s inevitable Houston Dynamo or FC Dallas move gets closer to 0:00:00 every day, and the rising star El Real bought this summer after the World Cup, James Rodríguez, is on pace to become the third dos Santos brother, if he’s lucky.
Pogba can do better than Real Madrid. He can go home and be the new king of France once Zlatan Ibrahimović steps away from Paris Saint-Germain. He can sign with Chelsea for a boatload of money, and take all kinds of promotional photos with John Terry to prove his captain loves people of all ethnicities. He can replace Xavi at Barcelona, where a limping flamingo could lead the league in assists. Or he could go to Manchester City and sign a pre-contract to move to NYCFC in 2025 that he’ll never have to honor.
Paul Pogba doesn’t need Real Madrid. He doesn’t text first to see what people are doing on Friday night. He is a man with options.