Juventus have been faced with some irritating speculation over Paul Pogba's long-term future during the international break, and it's their own fault for inviting it.
The former Manchester United man, who opted to leave Old Trafford on a free transfer in search of more regular playing time in 2012, has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Real Madrid in recent months.
The Bianconeri management should be focusing their energies on keeping him in Turin for the next decade, but instead, club president Andrea Agnelli has admitted to Gazetta dello Sport, via Craig Hope of the Daily Mail, that a big-money deal would be hard to resist.
Giorgio Chiellini, the Old Lady's stellar central defender, has weighed in on the subject, suggesting that he too could see Pogba departing for a monstrous offer.
He told Gazetta dello Sport, via the Daily Mail:
At the moment, Pogba is the biggest talent in international football in his position. If Juve do receive an obscenely high offer for him... just look at the price Bale went for.
Paul is settled here and he’ll probably renew his contract, but you never know with the transfer market. Anything can happen.
When a club is offered an obscene amount of money for a player it’s difficult to say no. No-one can promise that a player will never be sold. Every player has his price, that's just the way it is.
The fact that any player has a price and that everyone is for sale is a given in modern football, as evidenced by Cristiano Ronaldo's mammoth £80 million sale from Manchester United to Real Madrid.
Why Chiellini needs to regurgitate that is unclear, and despite altogether not saying too much, he's invited heavy, unwanted speculation to the club.
Juventus are in the process of phasing Andrea Pirlo out of his regista role and pushing Pogba into a more integral one. Antonio Conte is trying to build a future around the precocious French talent, and talking about him potentially leaving is hardly the ideal stance to take.
Chiellini says it himself: "Pogba is the biggest talent in international football in his position." Perhaps not the biggest, but one of the biggest certainly, and the strides he has made so far in his short career are astonishing, to say the least.
Pogba is the complete midfielder. He possesses every attribute required to reach the top. Power, aggressiveness, technical talent, height and speed are all his to exert, and he can produce a rasping long shot to boot.
Whether Conte plans to plug him into the regista role in place of Pirlo or remodel the system around him in a different way is unclear, but the obvious moves to limit Pirlo's influence over the team—benched for certain games, contract situation unclear—can only point to the induction of Pogba as a Juve star.
The Bianconeri have taken a quizzical approach to the situation, one that simply invites continued speculation for the next several seasons.
That Agnelli has said a big-money deal would be tough to resist is a tool international media will use against the club in future transfer windows, and Pogba's early, ambitious move to Turin speaks volumes of the confidence he has in himself.
It will now be excruciating to watch the papers to put two and two together every single transfer window from this point on.
Juve need Pogba if they are to build a UEFA Champions League winning side and that has to be the goal. The Turin giants are one of Europe's finest, most storied clubs, and the fans will not be happy selling their star assets off to vultures.
A stronger message in the other direction was needed on the subject of Pogba's future, and Agnelli could live to regret his off-the-cuff remarks.
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