The longest-running transfer saga of the summer has finally come to an end. Paul Pogba is, once again, a Manchester United player. All it cost was a world record £89 million transfer fee to bring Pogba back from Juventus and rectify, arguably, the biggest transfer blunder of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure.
From a footballing perspective, this deal is a no-brainer for United. The team hasn't had a dominant box-to-box midfielder since Roy Keane, and Pogba has all the physical tools to be a world-class superstar. He's like a bigger, stronger and faster version of Keane with the passing ability of a Paul Scholes, to boot. He could be the best French midfielder since Zinedine Zidane, and if he can be United's Zizou for the next ten years, then this transfer fee will seem like the world's biggest bargain.
The more interesting aspect of Pogba's slow, yet seemingly inevitable move is what it says about both Manchester United and the state of European football. For one thing, it shows that the Premier League is flush with cash and English teams aren't afraid to flout their financial clout. With about three weeks left in the transfer window, spending in the Premiership has already reached a record high in terms of average transfer fee (£10.3 million - shattering last season's £6.4 million average). [UPDATE, 09/01/16: The Premier League shattered its previous spending record in one transfer window, doling out £1.165 billion - £295 mil more than the previous high set last summer.] It was obvious that Pogba clearly had his heart set on playing for his hero, Zidane, at Real Madrid. Yet United is such a cash cow that, despite having no Champions League football, the Red Devils were able to easily outbid the reigning European champs to secure Pogba's signature. Once it was clear that it was going to take a world-record transfer fee for Juve to give up one of their prized players, only United was willing and able to pony up the cash. That's a huge shock for those of us who have become accustomed to seeing Real Madrid break the transfer record year-after-year with impunity.
The other thing about #Pogback is that it, officially, confirmed the end of the Ferguson Way at United. Ferguson would have never splashed that kind of cash for anyone - let alone one of Mino Raiola's clients, and he certainly wouldn't have ceded so much control over the transfer process to a player. Pogba's return was the worst-kept secret in England, thanks to numerous Adidas videos that spoiled the move before United could release its official statement, as well as the obligatory photos of Pogba signing his contract and holding a United shirt. Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic's transfer seemed to be dictated by player and agent. It was Zlatan, after all, who revealed his move to United on social media well before he had even signed his contract or passed his medical. Throw in Henrikh Mkhitaryan's £26 million move from Borussia Dortmund and it was clear that Raiola was calling the shots at Old Trafford during this transfer window - similar to how Jorge Mendes held sway during the 2013-14 window when he delivered Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
Ed Woodward has long said that he wants to create a team of superstars in the vein of Real Madrid's Los Galacticos. Now he finally has that star to build around as he hopes to emulate what Florentino Perez has done. With long term targets like Gareth Bale and Neymar still out there, it's clear that, if Woodward has his way, the record fee he paid for Pogba probably won't stay in the record books very long.