Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Manchester United’s players knew losing Paul Pogba “was a huge, huge error”.
United are the supposed frontrunners to sign Pogba in a £100m deal this summer, in what would be a return to Old Trafford for the French midfielder.
The 23-year-old spent three years in the youth system and on the fringes of the United first team from 2009 to 2012, but eventually left after not being afforded enough opportunities to impress.
He joined Juventus as a free agent in 2012, and quickly realised his potential in Italy, playing 37 games and scoring five goals in his first season.
Pogba is now considered among the leading talents in world football, and Ferdinand claims that he and his former United teammates were ‘sold’ on the midfielder even when he was at the club in his formative years.
‘Everyone was sold on Paul Pogba,’ Ferdinand wrote in the Sunday Times. ‘When he left United every player was saying, “What the hell is going on?” Everyone in that changing room knew that him leaving was a huge, huge error.
‘He was 17, nearly 18, and before he came into the changing room I said, ‘Listen, this kid, I’ve seen him play for the reserves and youths and he has something.
‘After he trained, no player in that Manchester United first team disagreed. Everyone was sold on Paul Pogba. But he came to a decision to leave and sometimes these things happen in football.
Speaking to the BBC during their coverage of the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France, in which Pogba played every minute, including their defeat in extra time, Ferdinand added: “I would love him to return.
“United need personalities. The Premier League needs personalities. The league needs star players, charisma, and at the moment they are not in England. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is here. Yes, that’s a great start, but how long for?
“This is potentially the £100m kid at 23 years old, he’s got huge potential. The thing that stood out for me when I first met him other than he ability was his personality.
“This kid wants to be the best, he started this tournament very anxious, like a kid who had something to prove after he’d been hyped up and was worthy of that hype but he’s grown into this tournament [for France]. “