In the early hours of this morning Manchester United announced the world record breaking transfer of Paul Pogba from Juventus for a mere £89 million. There is no denying the France Internationals talent, but only time will tell if he is value for money. If he makes anything like the impression Gareth Bale has made at Real Madrid since his massive money move United are on for a winner.
Mourinho has described Pogba as having the ability to be the heartbeat of the United squad for the next ten years, but what the deal does do is throw serious questions about the futures of members of the current squad.
United will line up with a five man midfield, two players holding (one of which will offer an attacking threat as a dynamic, box-to-box player), two wingers (more like forwards, not natural width) and a number ten. Pogba will play in one of the central roles and Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry told Sky Sports News he would like to see him deployed in a more advanced position. That would mean club captain Wayne Rooney would have to drop further back. That perhaps could be seen as a waste of talent but I cannot see either star signing or captain being happy with a rotation policy. The addition of Ibrahimovic casts a doubt over Rooney being the main man up top, particularly with Rashford waiting. Fellow new signing Mkhitaryan is also likely to start, as he is a dynamic midfielder that only leaves the holding midfield role for either Pogba or Rooney (whoever does not play behind Zlatan).
Squad rotation in the modern game is vital but it does not take a genius to know twelve players into three roles does not work, yet that is the position Mourinho now finds himself in. Aside from the three players mentioned above, United also have:
All of the above can play in those central three roles.
Reports suggest Schweinsteiger has already been deemed surplus to requirements by the former Chelsea manager, while former United manager David Moyes is suggested to be interested in both Fellaini and Janusaj. Youngster Perreira is likely to have to go out on loan to get game time.
As for those staying, Michael Carrick will play a role after signing a new contract in the summer, while Jesse Lingard is likely to have to spend most of his time on the season on the wing again. Ander Herrera is a fan favourite and should remain, although he is likely to play as cover for the main three.
That leaves two players with the biggest question marks. Morgan Schneiderlin is yet to hit the heights expected after his move from Southampton. A player of such quality may see not being a guaranteed regular as an issue and that may see him move on, especially as Blind can also cover that role too. Kante has already replaced him in the France national team.
Finally Juan Mata. Since the appointment of Mourinho doubts have been raised about his United future. These were escalated on Sunday when he was subbed after only 30 minutes during the Community Shield. I can see him leaving although I think Mourinho should look to retain the Spaniard. He offers something different to just about every other player – even when played out wide. In addition, Jose knows what he can get form Mata and that could be crucial during this transitional period. If Mata is to be used as a winger he will have stiff competition from Lingard, Martial, Depay, Young and possibly even Rashford and Valencia.
Mata was brought off 30 minutes after coming on, but is he off for good?
When reviewing the above I can see all but Carrick, Herrera and Lingard leaving this summer – but that still leaves the initial issue of who plays where?
Opinion time, who would you pick as your United five man midfield?