Thursday, March 30, 2023

Will Pogba’s Deal Start A ‘Domino Effect’ That Will Hurt Chelsea Next Season?

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Aakarsh Bommakanti
Was diving around lush green grass not so long ago but my keyboard is all I have now. An avid observer of detail in sports with a passion to make myself heard. Can find me playing on a field if not in front of my screen.

The biggest transfer saga of the summer ended this week after Manchester United managed to sign French sensation Paul Pogba in a world record deal of £89m. They managed to capture his signature just in time for Pogba to be eligible for their first game in the Premier League next season and Jose Mourinho will be hoping that the player is fit enough for his first league game as a United manager against AFC Bournemouth.

This deal will have its own effects on the Premier League with a world class midfielder joining the ranks and improving the overall quality of the league, but it will also have its side-effects on other clubs (none more than Juventus who lost him). The Italian giants, who Pogba helped to yet another Italian league title last season, have received a significant sum of money for the 23-year old’s signature this summer but are now thrown into the market in search of a midfielder who can replace Pogba in the squad next season.

With money not being an issue, the Serie A outfit have been scouting all possible targets in recent times. PSG’s Blaise Matuidi was understood to be Massimiliano Allegri top priority transfer target to replace Pogba but with the owner of the French club revealing that Matuidi is not for sale, Juventus had to move on to other targets. The likes of Luis Gustavo and Axel Witsel have also been on the radar of the Italian club recently but both the targets are seemingly away from the manager’s reach which has left the club still in search of a first-team midfielder with just over two weeks of the transfer window left.

However, one midfielder, who is also touted as a priority transfer target for Allegri is Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. The Serbian midfielder was impressive in Chelsea’s title winning season a couple of years ago but failed to cement his place in the squad under Guus Hiddink in the previous season. Though he was given enough chances in the pre-season leading into the new campaign, he was not able to impress the new manager. Antonio Conte, the new manager at the Bridge is expected to use the likes of N’Golo Kanté, the new summer buy and Cesc Fabregas the former Barcelona midfielder for most of the next season.  This has left the likes of Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel with less game time, even more so because of the lack of European commitments at the Stamford Bridge. So Matic is currently unsettled at Chelsea.

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Nemanja Matic of Chelsea in action during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
VELDEN, AUSTRIA – JULY 20: Nemanja Matic of Chelsea in action during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Conte insisted that Matic will play a role in his squad next season recently but with Juventus now desperate for a midfielder, the Serbian seems to be a right fit for the Italian outfit. Matic may not be the play-maker Pogba is but he is a genuine midfielder who has all the traits to walk into the Juventus side. It will be an interesting turn of events for Chelsea if they lose Matic, making Mourinho’s move for Pogba a piece of genius. If Pogba’s transfer to Manchester United leaves Chelsea with one less top-class midfielder going into the next season, they will have reduced their competition to the domestic title (albeit just on paper). The manager does not have enough time and personnel in the transfer market to cover for the exit of the Serbian. Conte still has a squad strong enough to cope with the loss of Matic but if the squad is hit by injuries and leaves the club short of midfielders during the season, we all know who will be smiling. Do you think this kind of a domino effect was a part of Mourinho’s plans?

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