Paul Pogba's performances in his last two games, which ended in Manchester United's late, late wins over Bournemouth and Juventus, are a microcosm of his time in the club. He played a crucial role in these games, but at the same time was uninteresting, inspiring and yet oppressive. When United competed against Bournemouth, he was often great, drifting past the challenges of desperate opponents and summoning an assistant for Marcus Rashford's winning goal. But against Juventus, whose followers praised him on his return to Turin, he had no great influence. The stage is prepared for both types of performance when United Manchester City visit on Sunday as a serious outsider. Pogba is in an interesting position today. Should he stay in Old Trafford or should he leave? The question arises, as his relationship with Jose Mourinho has apparently led to considerable tensions for some months, as the two social media exchange themselves either in the press or in the review, and Mourinho even went so far as to deprive him of the duties of vice-captain to free. Whether he stays or goes elsewhere, Pogba remains a great asset. His performances this season have been varied, but at best he's still good enough to remind everyone – even those who overlook his World Cup winner – that he's a key player at the top level. Would that be a buying club Both in terms of his transfer fee and in terms of his wages, it would be realistic only three or four places at which he could end. There is Paris Saint-Germain, but it is unclear whether he would enjoy the much less competitive nature of French league football. There is the prospect of a return to Juventus, a move to Real Madrid or a transfer to Barcelona, with which he is most connected.
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Barcelona's very strong start to the season seems to change the equation. The midfield is slowly being handed over to Philippe Coutinho and Arthur, whose appearance was crowned by his outstanding performance in the 5-1 win over Real Madrid. It is not immediately clear where Pogba would fit into this configuration. Barcelona already have a dynamic playmaker in Coutinho, and in midfield they seem to be well-manned. It is hard to imagine him changing sides with the Brazilian or consistently performing the kind of defensive work that has become the trademark of Ivan Rakitic. Real Madrid seems to be a natural fit as most of its recent findings point to a revision. Although they have improved somewhat since Santiago Solari's move from Julen Lopetegui, they still lack some creativity in midfield. Meanwhile, Pogba combines the long death of Toni Kroos with the tricks of Isco. With his huge marketing appeal, the Frenchman could continue to be the brand name that club president Florentino Perez seems to crave so often. Even if Madrid wants to make this investment, the acquisition of Pogba can be hampered by a significant financial barrier. The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the men most affected by the Madrid attack, has left Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema – the latter, who has never been the top scorer – unable to overcome the pent-up demand. Although Madrid has needs in midfield, the attack may require the utmost attention. There has long been talk of Neymar going to Bernabeu, and it is unlikely that Madrid could afford both Neymar and Pogba this summer. To make these offers possible, the club's accountants have been hired for a few very busy months. This leaves three options: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus or Manchester United. Paris may be appealing because it would be a chance to work with the brilliant Thomas Tuchel, who is putting together a team that could and should be a candidate for the Champions League. The club could certainly afford Pogba, the midfield would certainly find room for him and from a marketing perspective – a World Cup winner who returns to his hometown – would be a dream. The only question would be whether it is an ambitious move for Pogba from the perspective of football. Pogba's inconsistency and friction with Mourinho mean that his future may be played elsewhere than Man United. Etsuo Hara / Getty Images There is the question of Juventus, who has a good playmaker in Miralem Pjanic, but could also take on Pogba after a reorganization of his midfield. The Turin club recently signaled its plans for the Champions League with Ronaldo, and Pogba would mark a captivating next leg of their plan. Juventus has the money and strives to build its global brand – that was part of the rationale behind the Ronaldo transfer, even though the serious allegations against the Portuguese striker have caused considerable damage to this goal. Pitch would lead to an outstanding purchase: the only one The question would be whether he feels he has an unfinished business in Turin. This leaves Manchester United, where the fragile nature of Pogba's relationship with Jose Mourinho is explored to exhaustion. The core of this team is still young and very talented. With a new coach – given the recent bouts by Mourinho – no unrealistic perspective – Pogba's best in the Premier League could still come. Most importantly, the club knows the value of Pogba both on and off the field, and probably wants to keep it despite any differences he has with the current coach. If Ernesto Valverde, as has already been discussed many times, leaves Barcelona or Mauricio Pochettino decides that he would like to work with more resources than at Tottenham Hotspur available. This would be two excellent goals for United and would have had a significant positive impact wherever they took responsibility. At that moment, Pogba was likely to be firmly in the knowledge that his future at Old Trafford could only take a little longer than it seemed at the beginning of this season.