What does signing Paul Pogba actually mean for Manchester United?

The summer-long transfer saga regarding Paul Pogba was finally and perhaps unsurprisingly put to rest today as the Frenchman completed his £89 million return to Manchester United. But what does his arrival actually mean for the club? Lewis Addley explores…

In a summer market of crazy transfer fees, Paul Pogba has become the world’s most expensive player at £89 million, how long that fee will remain the highest remains to be seen. Pundits and fans alike have cast their opinion on just about every talking point regarding the 23-year-old Frenchman, from topics such as how Pogba is or isn’t worth the money to whether Manchester United actually need him.

So let’s have a look at what Pogba’s sensational return to United actually means for the club in terms of how Jose Mourinho will be able to get the best out of the highly-rated Frenchman and the impact his arrival could have on their current midfielders.

Where exactly can we expect Pogba to play?

Pogba netted eight goals last season for Juventus in Serie A from a central midfield role and in the modern game he plays a somewhat old-fashioned style. Pogba doesn’t tend to be deployed as an attacking midfielder, despite the fact that he can be a sensational finisher from inside and outside the box. He dictates the play, evident from the fact that his passing statistics are far more impressive than his shooting statistics. Pogba managed an average of 83% passing accuracy compared to 37% shot accuracy in Serie A last season.

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Jose Mourinho is widely expected to play his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. We can expect the new signings to feature from the off, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to lead the line. Behind him, Anthony Martial should start on the left, captain Wayne Rooney in behind in his preferred number ten role with Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the right to form a frightening trio of attacking support. With those front four slots occupied, it is clear Pogba is likely to be used in an anchoring role, deep through the centre of the park, most likely alongside Morgan Schneiderlin.

Will midfielders be leaving now Pogba has joined?

As everyone was still waiting for Pogba to be announced, Mourinho made it very clear that he was looking to bring in one more ‘high-quality player’ and have his business done before the opening weekend of the season. With that in mind it doesn’t look like the United boss is looking to offload any other players than those who have already been reported.

Juan Mata’s torrid relationship with Mourinho came into question once again after he was substituted just 27 minutes after coming on in Sunday’s Community Shield final win over Leicester City. Despite Mourinho giving what some may accept as an appropriate reason for Mata being replaced, it has only increased speculation on the Spaniard’s future at the club.

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The future of Bastian Schweinsteiger remains up in the air. It has been made apparent that the German is surplus to requirements and he looks set to be on his way out from the club just one season after joining.

It looks likely that Mourinho has Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini in his plans, but just how much playing time the three midfielders will amass is unclear.

The remaining midfielders in question will not be expected to challenge for a holding role at the club as they are either wingers or upcoming youth talent. One worth mentioning is Daley Blind, the dutchman can play in the holding role but he has predominantly featured at the back for United.

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There is no doubt the arrival of Pogba will be a boost for the United camp and some of his teammates have already taken to social media to show their excitement of his return. It is clear he has already made a huge impact in terms of talking points but now it is time for him to step up and deliver, to show any doubters that £89 million is a worthwhile fee for his services.

Is Pogba worth £89 million and are United right to have resigned the Frenchman?

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

Venue: White Hart Lane – Sunday, April 10 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Tottenham Hotspur 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – Manchester United 3/1

Match Preview

Tottenham welcome Manchester United to White Hart Lane on Sunday in a game which could define either side’s season.

Spurs are still in the title race, but are hanging on by a thread, as they trail leaders Leicester City by seven points with six games to go. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have to ensure they win all of their remaining games and hope some of their fellow Premier League sides can do them some favours in a final bid to win the title.

Last weekend was difficult for Tottenham, as their 1-1 draw with Liverpool saw them fall another two points behind the leaders, but this has still been a fantastic season for Pochettino’s side, who look likely to finish runners-up.

Spurs have lost just once in their last 11 league outings and will be looking to continue that run here. This will be a tough test for them though as they take on an in-form United side.

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Manchester United are still in the race for a Champions League spot. They are currently 5th, just one point outside the top four and are fighting tooth and nail to qualify for the Champions League.

Much like Spurs they have to ensure they win every game until the end of the season to give themselves the best chance of achieving a top four finish, so this is a game neither side can afford to lose.

After this match they have three straight home fixtures, so Louis Van Gaal will attempt to make sure they do everything possible to come away from White Hart Lane with three points this weekend to give them the foundation to win all six of their remaining fixtures.

United have already beaten Spurs this season, back on the opening day, and are only one of four sides to do so in the league this campaign so they have to fancy their chances.

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Team News

Tottenham Hotspur have four injury concerns heading into this tie. Clinton N’Jie and Nabil Bentaleb are both expected to miss out, while Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela are both doubtful.

Manchester United are expecting to be without Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Will Keane, while Daley Blind is a doubt.

Key Points

Tottenham Hotspur’s last five: L/D/W/W/D

Manchester United’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Manchester United are unbeaten in 31 of their last 33 games against Spurs in all competitions.

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Tottenham forward continues to provide for his side and has now netted 22 goals in 32 league games. The Spurs faithful will be hoping their key man can do it once again this weekend.

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Score Prediction

Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United – In a tie which could have such huge implications on both these sides’ seasons, there is going to be immense pressure on the players. Neither side can afford anything but a win, so a draw is looking a likely outcome as they could cancel each other out. This result could all but end the title race and could potentially be devastating for United’s hopes of achieving a top four finish.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Hull City vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Hull City vs. Manchester United

Venue: KC Stadium – Sunday, May 24 – 15:00 BST (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Hull City 21/10 – Draw 5/2 – Manchester United 6/5

Match Preview

Hull City face Manchester United for the last game of the Premier League season at KC Stadium on Sunday in an absolute must-win game for the Tigers if they are to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.

Steve Bruce‘s side have only managed to win two of their last eleven games (D2, L7) and have also lost their last three consecutively – the most recent was a 2-0 defeat away at Tottenham.

The defeat that will be hurting the Tigers the most is the 1-0 loss at home to Burnley which has now left them the monumental task of having to beat Manchester United and hoping that Newcastle don’t win against West Ham.

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A draw will not be enough to keep Hull alive, so they have nothing to lose coming into this game and can throw caution to the wind – the problem will arise if they commit too many men forward and allow United to hit them on the break.

Manchester United have faint hopes of finishing in third and avoiding the Champions League qualificaiton playoff, but they will be relying on Arsenal losing at home to West Brom for that to be possible and given the Gunners’ superior goal difference, there would have to be an extremely unlikely scoreline in one of the games.

Louis Van Gaal‘s side have taken their foot off the gas slightly and since a run of six straight wins, the Red Devils have now lost three of their last five (W1, D1).

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Ex-United player Steve Bruce is in the opposing dugout looking to save Hull from the drop and his old club could hammer the final nail in the coffin.

United comfortably won the reverse fixture 3-0 at Old Trafford back in November thanks to Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.

Team News

Hull City will be without the injured Mohamed Diame, Gaston Ramirez and Robert Snodgrass, while Jake Livermore is unavailable for non-footballing reasons. Curtis Davies will face a late fitness test.

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Manchester United will be without the injured Luke Shaw, Rafael and Michael Carrick. David De Gea, Jonny Evans and Wayne Rooney will all be assessed to see if they’re fit for action.

Key Points

Hull City’s last five: W/W/L/L/L

Manchester United’s last five: L/L/L/W/D

Key Stat: Hull City have lost every one of the seven Premier League game they’ve played against Manchester United. The Tigers also haven’t beaten United since 1974 in a Division Two game.

Key Player: Marouane Fellaini – The Belgian isn’t the prettiest player on the eye, but he’s been extremely effective in recent weeks and could be influential once again.

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Score Prediction

Hull City 1-2 Manchester United – It’s hard to see how Hull can turn round their season now. Even if they win, it may not be enough. They will try their hardest to win the game, but United will have too much quality for them.

United dealt HUGE blow as transfer target is set to stay put

Manchester United are looking likely to suffer a setback in their attempts to sign Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne as the defender is set to sign a new deal, according to The Independent.

United have been linked with Clyne for some time now and were favourites to sign the 24-year-old right-back who has just one year left on his current Saints contract.

Louis Van Gaal has not trusted his Brazilian full-back, Rafael, and has opted to play Antonio Valencia for the majority of the season. It now looks like United’s hunt for a top-class right-back is set to continue, with Barcelona’s Dani Alves another name linked.

Clyne has found his footing in the England national side and as a result has attracted attention from the Premier League’s top clubs.

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Southampton will be desperate to keep hold of their stars at the end of the season after last summer’s raid which saw them lose many first team players, including left-back, Luke Shaw to United.

The appeal of Champions League action may sway Clyne in to wanting a move to the Red Devils but it seems likely a move is now off the cards, with Southampton’s chief executive Les Reed confident he will stay on the south coast.

“With Clyney it’s been the same as with Jay [Rodriguez], we’ve been talking for quite a while,” Reed told the club’s official website.

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“Ronald made a comment that there was a deadline. That deadline was more about getting a response, and that issue has been solved by the fact Nathaniel has changed his agent. We got an immediate response from his new agent.

“That’s not our business, but there was something there slowing things down. That’s all accelerated, I’m in discussions with his agent and those have been very positive.

“We’re at a very good place at the moment in terms of discussions going on and I’m confident again that we will have a resolution to that sooner rather than later,” Reed concluded.

Will Nathaniel Clyne stay at Southampton? Is he the right-back United desperately need?

Southampton star drops major hint over move to Manchester United

Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne has dropped a major hint that he could be heading for the St Mary’s exit door this summer, especially if the Saints don’t qualify for Champions League football.

“I’m an ambitious person and want to try and win the title and play in the Champions League. It’s nice to hear teams are interested in you.” Clyne said according to the Express.

The news that Clyne is desperate to play in a team that can challenge for the title and offer him a chance to play in Europe’s elite competition will put Manchester United on red alert as they seek top quality strength in depth.

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The 24-year-old right-back has been a mainstay in the Premier League‘s most formidable defence this season as Southampton have conceded fewer goals than any other team, with Clyne’s consistency one of the key reasons behind their success.

Clyne has made 29 league appearances for the Saints and a recent call-up to the England sqaud has made him highly sought after considering he still has his best years ahead of him.

Southampton would undoubtedly demand a hefty transfer fee for the Englishman who joined from Crystal Palace in 2012 and we could expect an offer that they would consider reasonable to be in a similar region to the £27 million fee that United paid the Saints for Luke Shaw.

Ronald Koeman has insisted that Southampton will do everything they can to retain the services of their best players and will be keen to avoid another summer exodus.

“We know it’s not easy as maybe there is some interest. At the moment, there is not a serious bid for whichever player in the team, but we’ll do everything to keep them.”

Would Nathaniel Clyne be a good signing for Manchester United?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Tottenham

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, March 15 – 16:00 GMT (12:00 ET)

Match Odds: Manchester United 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Tottenham 14/5

Match Preview

Manchester United and Tottenham clash at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon in yet another crucial Premier League fixture that will go some way to deciding who qualifies for Champions League football come the end of the season.

Man United come into this game off the back of an FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Arsenal on Monday which would’ve hurt Louis Van Gaal and he needs to make sure that United recover quickly.

Tottenham have bounced back to winning ways following the League Cup final defeat to Chelsea at Wembley two weeks ago with hard-fought victories against Swansea and QPR.

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The Red Devils and Van Gaal in particular have been subjected to a wrath of criticism from fans and the media alike for their supposedly poor performances over the last few months.

Despite the unrest, Man United are currently still fourth in the table and have only lost two of their last 18 Premier League games (W12, D4). Their defence is also statistically the best it has been at this stage for the last five years, although they still have to face Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in a tricky run-in.

With both sides now no longer taking part in any other competition, they can solely focus all of their attention on trying to secure that highly sought after top-four finish.

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Tottenham themselves have only lost two of their last 14 Premier League games (W9, D3), although they are yet to record a victory on the road against a team in the top five this season.

Spurs can take huge confidence from the fact that they’ve won on their last two visits to Old Trafford and are unbeaten against United in their last five.

A win for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men would take them level on points with United, whereas a win for the Red Devils would further the gap to six points and would keep them in the top four, so the importance of this game couldn’t be higher for either side.

The reverse fixture at White Hart Lane ended as a 0-0 draw during the busy Christmas period of fixtures in December.

Team News

Angel Di Maria will miss the game through suspension after his red card against Arsenal on Monday. Jonny Evans is also still suspended. Robin Van Persie is unavailable as he continues recovering from an ankle injury. Luke Shaw and Ashley Young will be assessed but should be fit to play.

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Tottenham will have a full squad to choose from with no reported injury issues and no one serving any suspensions. Andros Townsend will expect to retain his starting berth on the right wing in place of Erik Lamela. Harry Kane will lead the line once again as he hopes to add to his impressive tally of 16 goals this season.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five in the Premier League: D/W/L/W/W

Tottenham’s last five in the Premier League: W/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have only failed to score at home once this season, while Spurs have also only failed to score away from home on one occasion.

Key Player: Wayne Rooney – We’ve seen him deployed as the main striker or as a central midfielder and the debate over his best position is rife. Wherever he plays, he is crucial to United and can make the difference on any given day.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 1-1 Tottenham – It’s one of those games where any result is possible but the implications of defeat will be huge for both sides. They’ll probably share the spoils.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Southampton

Manchester United welcome the high-flying Southampton to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon for arguably the game of the weekend in the Premier League.

If you had said in August that this fixture will play a crucial part in who qualifies for Champions League football come the end of the season, many Saints fans would have laughed at you. But that is very much the situation that presents itself in this game.

United haven’t set the world alight with their performances but Louis Van Gaal won’t mind that in the slightest as they are still getting results, which is something they used to do so well under the great Sir Alex Ferguson in years gone by.

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They are now unbeaten in their last ten games in the Premier League and have suffered just one league defeat in the last 15.

Manchester United’s home record: Played 10 – Won 8 – Drawn 1 – Lost 1

Talking of Sir Alex Ferguson, Southampton have a great manager themselves in the shape of Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has been a revelation for the South Coast side and any fears surrounding the club at the start of the season following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino have well and truly been washed away.

Since a minor blip that saw them go on a four-game losing streak, Southampton have picked things up again by going four without a loss, winning three and drawing one.

Southampton’s away record: Played 9 – Won 4 – Drawn 1 – Lost 4

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This clash promises to be an entertaining affair and is a tough one to call as so much depends on how both sides approach the game.

Southampton boast the best defence in the Premier League this season, and you’d expect them to be a tough nut to crack for Man United. And for all United’s firepower going forward, they still haven’t managed to outscore the Saints this season – both sides have scored 34 goals.

The hosts will be without Ashley Young who has a hamstring injury, while Southampton are without Maya Yoshida (international duty) and the impressive Sadio Mane (calf).

Manchester United’s last five: W/D/W/D/D

Southampton’s last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key stat: Manchester United are undefeated in their last nine Premier League home games (Won 8, Drawn 1).

Key player: Fraser Forster – the Southampton goalkeeper has been one of this season’s outstanding performers and is likely to be called upon to save his team once again.

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Score prediction: Manchester United 2 – 1 Southampton

Manchester United enjoying six-game win streak – is Michael Carrick the reason why?

Manchester United have finally got into full swing and Louis Van Gaal looks like a great appointment for the Red Devils, as they sit in third place in the Premier League.

United extended their winning run to six with victory against Liverpool on Sunday and look like a side that can challenge for the title once again.

After a poor start to season by United’s standards they have stormed up the table into third and are just eight points off league leaders Chelsea.

Incredibly, it seems that the return of experienced midfielder, Michael Carrick, has been the catalyst as they have a 100% record when he has started for them this season, compared to a win rate of just 30% when he hasn’t.

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He also possesses the highest pass completion rate of United’s midfielders this term and can even play a role for them at centre-back – where he was positioned for the win on Sunday at Old Trafford.

Carrick has become part of a formidable midfield trio that also involves Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, both of whom were seemingly heading for the exit door before this fine run of form.

It seems that Van Gaal has decided to structure his line-ups around the pass-master Carrick and his decision has served him well so far.

Louis Van Gaal hasn’t set the world alight in the Premier league as of yet, but his team is sneaking up the table. And with Carrick, they have improved dramatically.

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With a strike force that boasts Robin Van Persie, Radamel Falcao and captain, Wayne Rooney, they could well mount a serious title challenge.

The consistent performances of key players like Michael Carrick will be crucial and the Red Devils will be enjoying what they are seeing at the moment.

Are Manchester United good enough to win the Premier League title?