The 3 players Man Utd signed along with Paul Pogba – & how they fared
In the summer of 2016, Jose Mourinho’s arrival as Manchester United manager was swiftly followed by the signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus for a world-record fee.
It was a signal of intent that United were determined to end their then three-year Premier League winning drought post-Sir Alex Ferguson drought.
Mourinho immediately threw down the gauntlet to his star acquisition, asking him “to be the heart of this club for the next decade and beyond.”
But even the staunchest Pogba admirer can’t argue against the reality that he’s failed to deliver on that during his second Old Trafford spell.
Five seasons since Juventus reluctantly relinquished one of their most talented assets, Pogba’s stay in Manchester came to a disappointing end. He was sidelined as United registered their lowest points tally of the Premier League era and rejoined Juventus on another free.
Despite impressive performances on the international stage – rewarded with a World Cup triumph – we never saw undoubted ability consistently in a red shirt.
Pogba was one of four signings Mourinho made in his first transfer window at the helm. We look at how the other three recruits fared with the Red Devils.
The Ivorian centre-back was the first of Mourinho’s additions that summer when he arrived from Villarreal for £30million.
“Eric [Bailly] has the potential to be one of the best around,” Mourinho said.
However, consistent injury problems prevented the defender from living up to the hype that surrounded his signing. Bailly only managed to record 70 league appearances in six seasons – his best tally of 25 coming in the 2016-17 campaign.
Having fallen down the pecking order following the signings of Raphael Varane and subsequently Lisandro Martinez, he was sent out on loan to Marseille and subsequently sold to Besiktas – which is a pretty neat summary of the trajectory of his career.
If nothing else, Bailly was pure box office.
Arriving from Borussia Dortmund, the Armenia international’s incredible partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Germany meant supporters were rightly excited about his arrival.
But despite being the man to bring Mkhitaryan to Old Trafford, it quickly became clear Mourinho favoured others in forward positions – players who perhaps had a greater appetite to sacrifice their attacking game to defend.
The winger accumulated 24 goal contributions in 63 matches before he departed for Premier League rivals Arsenal in a swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez in January 2018. But Mkhitaryan did win the League Cup and Europa League in his one and only full season, which shouldn’t go unmentioned.
Despite not hitting the heights in Manchester, Mkhitaryan doesn’t regret making the move to the Premier League in 2016.
“At that time, he [Mourinho] was one of the most successful coaches in the world,” the 34-year-old said.
“I think he was the coach with the most trophies. So that was a different experience.”
The pair ended up reuniting at Roma, but Mkhitaryan has since moved to Inter and featured in last season’s Champions League final.
In his two-year Old Trafford stay, the Swedish icon was instrumental in Mourinho’s side which won three trophies in 2016-17 (if we include the Community Shield).
In 27 Premier League appearances that season, he scored 17 times.
Although the 41-year-old enjoyed success at United – his standout moment coming at Wembley where he scored a brace in the League Cup final – he does feel the club reflect too much on past glories.
“They talk too much about the past,” Ibrahimovic said, speaking following his departure.
“When I went there, I said, ‘I’m here to focus on the present and to make my own story.’ But when you have too much it becomes like a loop. You have to think about the present or you should go to a hospital and clean your head.”