Manchester United’s signing of Paul Pogba proves they are still box office | Paul Doyle

They are not in the Champions League but breaking the transfer record to sign a player they let go shows United are still far more interesting than many clubs who are

Manchester United will not see themselves as mugs for paying a world record fee to buy back a player who was on their books four years ago. Instead, their marketing men can present the purchase of Paul Pogba, who signed a five-year deal late on Monday night, as evidence of the club’s enduring power and prestige. United are not in the Champions League this season, but they have ensured, by adding Pogba to a box-office cast that includes José Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they remain more interesting than many clubs who are. That’s showbiz, in which United have a specific role to play. Outbidding Real Madrid is at least as important to them as outperforming Leicester City.

Last season’s sensational Premier League winners may have been applauded for their mostly frugal recruitment, but, by contrast, there is a sense that bargain-hunting would not be becoming of United in their present diminished sporting state. Sometimes, for some clubs, buyers’ remorse is caused by not spending extravagantly. Hark, is that wailing Arsenal fans you hear? Yes it is. Their club is as permanent a part of the Champions League draw as banal interviews and they have finished above United in the past three Premier League seasons, yet the activity of the summer so far makes many Arsenal fans view United as more in tune with the times, with disenchanted Gooners yearning for a big-name recruit.

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