So he’s back.
Paul Pogba is back. Or as the marketing machine at Manchester United exclaimed at 59 minutes to kick-off of the traditional season opener on Sunday – #Pogback
Forget the ‘protracted transfer’ and constant stream of media speculation, that hashtag hinted to the world that this was a deal done long ago.
Skip forward 36 hours and at an hour usually reserved for burying news, a slick 30 seconds video with Pogba announced his return; emerging from the shadows, with a suitably cool sound track, sporting a Man Utd emblem shaved and coloured into the side of his head told the world he was, indeed, back.[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5ROkJtFuJk[/youtube]
And then moments later – or 90 mins earlier – you had the Adidas version. Shot in the same studio, but this time with Grime star and the German sportswear brands ambassador, Stormzy delivering his usual 60 words a second rap of Pogba’s return. Again, the Club’s new signing is there….dancing in the shadows.[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jfn-U6EGzU[/youtube]
Normally when you sign a player, even the previous world’s most expensive player like Gareth Bale, football clubs issue a smiling handshake, holding of the shirt photo and a short press conference.
This was different. Whilst Pogba is without doubt talented, and could mature to the Ballon d’Or, and is exactly the energetic, box-to-box midfielder United have craved since Roy Keane, this was a move powered by marketing muscle.
Adidas are half way through a £750 million, ten-year sponsorship deal with United. Pogba is one of their Global faces. If not, THE.
United is a commercial gargantuan. More sponsor categories than any other club in the world – from Official Noodles (yes) to Official airline. And for all the criticism slung at Chief Executive, Ed Woodward over the last three years, he is a commercial man rather than a football man.
And now, United…and Adidas….have their man. The price tag is irrelevant. The most important figure is that United has retained 80% of the Frenchman’s image rights. In other words, Paul Pogba is a very good place to invest £89 million at a time when the Bank of England reduces interest rates to 0.25%.
Early figures suggest Pogba will earn United £40 million in the first year alone. Double that for Adidas. And that’s without kicking a ball. And that’s why he was announced to the world in a slick SnapChat/YouTube/Instagram generation video with Stormzy.
And that is why all the headlines of a protracted summer of negotiations are rubbish. This is a well conceived, well planned and executed marketing assault that probably started in earnest on May 27th when Jose Mourinho was announced manager of Manchester United. In fact, I would put a pound on the fact that it started last Christmas.
So, Man United fans – one of which I am – get their man. But so do the money men in and around the Club.