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Liverpool legend says potential Pogba transfer fee shows football spending has gone crazy

SoccerBy John Aldridge
Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba

IF FOOTBALL hasn't already gone mad, it certainly will have done when Manchester Unit­ed hand over £100mil­lion to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.

The game has moved in a very different direc­tion in the last few years and when you hear that a club are happy to hand over that kind of cash and give a single player £400,000-a-week, you won­der what will happen next.

Pogba is a decent player, even if he has not been one of those who caught my eye at Euro 2016 but that is hardly surprising because the fella is a long way from being the most creative player in the France team.

If United were paying over that kind of money to sign Li­onel Messi or Cristiano Ronal­do, I would see some merit in it, but £100m for a workaday midfielder who certainly won’t score anything approaching 40 goals a season? It is utter madness.

When you think of a guy work­ing hard in a regular job to bring his two kids along to a Premier League game and then you hear about a club paying that kind of money just to sign a less-than-essential piece of their team, I have to question the sanity of it all.

The whole thing is indecent in my view. How can a sport that we all fell in love with come to this?

I'll tell you how.

This potential Pogba deal is just the latest development of the game as it moves from a sport into a business.

Obviously, clubs want to make money and run successful busi­nesses, we all get that, but the money they are getting from the £5.1billion Premier League TV deal this summer is ensuring that they can spend what they damn want on players.

What a club are looking at now when they make a move to sign a player is not just his talent as a player and what he can bring to the team.

They also consider shirt sales, his marketability, whether his presence at their club will in­crease the share value, what the club is worth, and so on.

So after signing one of the most recognisable faces in the game in Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer, United are now after a player who regularly appears near the top of the list of the most marketable assets in the game.

Pogba has a big following on Twitter and other social networking sites, and United will look at that and believe they can tap into all of that and get something back on their investment.

The club recently signed a deal to promote movies for 20th Century Fox and with Pogba and Ibrahi­movic on board, they will have two more brand am­bassadors to spread the word for their sponsors.

I still like to believe that football plays a part in a decision to sign a player and for sporting reasons, I believe Ibrahimovic is a great signing for United.

Young lads like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will learn from him and as Mourinho is targeting quick­fire success to rebuild United's shattered aura, Zlatan will be a valuable addition.

United have fallen off their perch (to use a phase coined by Alex Ferguson to describe Liverpool some years back) in spectacularly horrible fashion over the last three years.

Now they are making some statements in the transfer mar­ket to confirm they want to get back to the top.

Hiring Jose Mourinho was the first of those statements, as he is a massive star in his own right and he is also a guy who offers a quick-fix solution to clubs that have lost their way.

Mourinho is a manager that brings instant success wherever he goes and he has been given the kind of transfer kitty to make that happen at United this summer.

So while Ibrahimovic is an expensive signing in terms of his wages, I'm sure United will make all that back in shirt sales and marketing deals over the next 12 months because this guy is a proven performer.

He has been one of the best target men in the game for the last 15 years and his trophy haul confirms he is a player who deserves to be respected.

United will be stronger for having players like Ibrahimovic and Pogba in their side and the presence of Mourinho should also ensure they are better than they were under Louis van Gaal last season.

Yet just because they have all the money, it doesn't mean United are certainties to be back in the mix to win the Pre­mier League title from day one of the new season.

I like the business that Jurgen Klopp has done at Liverpool and the signing of Sadio Mane from Southampton makes good sense, both financially and from a sporting perspective.

The club are looking to sell Christian Benteke after his woeful time at Anfield, and they might well end up getting most of the £30m they have spent on Mane back when they sell the Belgian striker.

Klopp has also strengthened his defensive options with the signing of Joel Matip.

I expect more players to come and go at Anfield in the next few weeks and the same is true for every Premier League club, in a summer that will probably see more money spent on transfers than ever before.

The concern I have is that by the end of this summer, the fans that still want to love this game will be feeling more detached from it than ever before.

If United splash out £100m for Pogba, you can bet that Man City will pay that much for someone else to show they are just as ambitious with Chelsea likely to then do the same.

Rich boys throwing their mon­ey around, that is what the Pre­mier League is all about now.

I'm looking forward to the start of the new season as we will have incredible interest in the battles between the high-profile manag­ers and some great action to watch on the field as well.

The Premier League is a won­derful product and you can see why it is making the clubs so much money around the world.

I just wonder where it will go next, because we are rapidly edging towards a point where the sport is lost amid the other business interests.

In the end, football is what I still care about and I'm sure most of you feel the same.

The trouble is, it's increasing­ly hard to retain faith in a sport that is changing in its purpose at such a rapid rate.