Barcelona Transfer Target Paul Pogba Could Be The Next Gift To Football's Luckiest Fans


My seven-year-old son is attending an official Barcelona soccer camp in America this week. He was excited to be put into "Group Messi" (for the youngest ones), but there are no real losers when the other groups are named Neymar, Pique, Iniesta, Suarez and Xavi.

Could it be that same Barca camp next year will replace that Xavi group with one named Pogba?

The Frenchman's move to Barcelona is gathering momentum as the blockbuster deal of the summer. It won't physically happen until summer 2016, by which time Barca's transfer ban will be lifted and Pogba will be carrying French hopes at a home European Championships, but the facts gathered thus far makes Camp Nou the outstanding favourite as next stop for the bulldozing ballerina.

Obviously Juventus would rather have Pogba for another season - who wouldn't? The Old Lady is in danger of becoming this summer's Southampton if all the speculation is to believed.

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Continuity cannot be underestimated. That fact puts Barca's offer ahead of those that might arrive from Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, who would all want the 22-year-old to roll up in August and start dismantling opposition midfielders in the Premier League immediately. It's not Barca's preference to wait, but the irony is their transfer ban could grease the best transfer available.

It's no exaggeration that Pogba can be billed as such. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer are not available, and there is no young midfielder in the game to compare with the influence Pogba can already exert in his early 20s. Physically, he is the epitome of the modern player - a chiseled, giant mountain goat of a specimen, who can beat players by fleet of foot, speed of foot and force of nature.

The big clubs know this only too well, but just when you thought the limitless pots at City or Chelsea were about to get a long pour, in came Barcelona to threaten a transfer that could signal yet another period of prolonged dominance. Key to any deal, as ever, is the agent and Mino Raiola's ties to presidential candidate Joan Laporta is being sold as the sweetener of all sweeteners. Laporta has gone so far to say he will sign Pogba should he be voted in.

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This election technique is nothing new of course and you can't blame the candidates when the most valuable currency in football will always be hope. For brief moments we focus in the moment, but for the rest of the time we're always looking forward. That's why the transfer window sparks more web traffic than the regular season for some of the biggest football sites.

Back to Pogba to Barcelona. It's a deal that could potentially give Luis Enrique's team a new dimension in midfield - added thrust, with a new physicality in the mix to potentially make Barca an even better team than the one that just won the treble. Andres Iniesta can't go on forever and Pogba, as coincidence would have it, is all too comfortable operating just to the left of a central midfielder.

Nobody is saying Pogba is the new Iniesta, as the two players are very different in style, but the question is whether he could be as effective in Iniesta by doing something slightly different in his areas? For all Pogba's driving runs and aggression, it's easy to forget how good he is at playing Iniesta-like passes between lines and linking play. Anything you lose in distribution capacity, you potentially make up in tenacity, pace and Pogba's ability to go past his man.

Not to slight Iniesta, who has lauded it in Barca's midfield for over a decade, but might it be that Pogba is the natural evolution in his position? Just as Ivan Rakitic came into this Enrique team and signalled the end of Xavi's reign, so might Pogba be the natural progression from Iniesta. That's the secret of football dynasties - to replace the key parts at just the right time, and with players who are set fair for the new conditions on the horizon.

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To think we were doubting Barcelona just a matter of months ago. Now we have a team driven by the goals of Messi, Suarez and Neymar - all of whom should still be feasting when the 2016-17 season comes around. Add to those three the breakout talent of Rakitic, the seemingly ageless Sergio Busquets (who is still only 26), and a defence that boasts Pique, Jordi Alba, Thomas Vermaelen and Dani Alves - who was arguably one of Barca's most effective players last season - and you have a serious foundation for dominance.

Throw Pogba in the mix and you not only consolidate that thought, but open the conversation to which players will be part of the generation after Messi who might conquer Europe all over again. Signing Pogba is not just about making the Barcelona we know and love stronger, and harder to beat, it's about setting the scene for what follows the most famous generation of players in the club's history.

If ever there was a footballer who showed the way to the game's future it was Pogba - a new breed of hybrid fighter and finesse footballer, who can do it all and has a drive you simply can't teach. For that reason this deal is about far more than just signing a great player; it's about signposting the future and that future for Barca could barely be any brighter right now. If they get Pogba, as I expect them to, the reaction from their Champions League rivals begins now.

Meanwhile, back at the Barcelona camp in North Carolina, two young footballers had a falling out and tempers flared. Over came the head coach, pointed to his badge and looked them closely up and down. "You think this is how players act at Barcelona?" he said.

Hands were shook and that was that - the latest sign of a club who are running things right top to bottom. 

 

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