Paul Pogba can afford to allow himself a wry smile when he picks up his first pay packet at Manchester United.
Four years after the club declined to pay him £65,000 a week, Pogba will be paid more than four times that amount to surpass Wayne Rooney as the Premier League’s highest earner.
Back in 2012, United were alarmed by the demands that Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola was making on behalf of a youngster who had made only seven first-team appearances, all as substitute.
History shows Juventus agreed to pay the sum, Pogba developed into one of the best players in the world and now the 23-year-old is back at Old Trafford, on an estimated £290,000 a week.
The wages being paid underline how determined United are to return to the top after missing out on the Champions League in two of the last three seasons.
Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović are the three highest-paid players in the Premier League though Sergio Aguero is expected to burst into the group when he officially signs a new contract at Manchester City soon.
If Pogba stays the entirety of his six-year deal at United, he will collect £90m in wages. To put it in context, it would take Prime Minister Theresa May 629 years to earn the same amount.
Shortly before the Premier League started, the whole of Manchester United was valued at £18m – one-fifth of Pogba’s new contract.
Wage inflation has made top Premier League footballers among the best-paid people in the country, with figures akin to FTSE 100 business leaders.
With emerging markets like China offering top dollar and Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich expanding their commercial operations worldwide, English clubs have to dip into their pockets to keep the world’s best happy.
Pogba’s mind-boggling salary is still dwarved by the £500,000 a week earned by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at Barcelona and Real Madrid, though they are one-man brands, selling millions of shirts for their clubs because of their name.
One day Pogba may do the same for United, but he can’t at quite the same level yet.
So he will have to prove his worth on the pitch, by trying to earn the club their first post-Sir Alex Ferguson Premier League title, followed by Champions League glory.
Wage inflation in English football is astonishing. When Manchester United won the Treble in 1999, there was an outcry when they promised to pay Roy Keane a record £52,000 a week. These days there are promising but untested youngsters earning that.
Financial fair play has been introduced to make sure clubs don’t have to fork out on imitators and copycats looking to emulate Pogba’s salary.
But for the very elite category – world-class talents who can win matches and shift large numbers of shirts – the sums will continue to rise.
Back in 2011-12, Pogba made his debut for United in a League Cup tie against Leeds United with other youngsters like Larnell Cole and Zeki Fryers trying to make the grade.
Nowadays he is No 1 in the country, in terms of wages anyway. Time will tell if he can live up to that billing on the pitch.
SOURCE: DAILY MAIL