In the end, the process was simpler than many imagined. Any serious follower of the game has predicted for years that, when Paul Pogba—absurdly precocious and ludicrously talented Juventus midfielder—was finally convinced that he’d outgrown the Bianconeri and Serie A and decided to make the leap from the Italian super-club to one of the select few super-duper-clubs, it would be an all-out war between Europe’s Goliaths to secure his services. And while Barcelona last summer and Real Madrid this window did flirt with the idea of seriously going after the 23-year-old phenom themselves, from the moment it became clear about a month ago that Pogba was at last ready to move on up to last night when it was finally announced, Manchester United were always favorites to close the deal.
It’s undeniable that this transfer is a monumental coup for United. The club has repeatedly tilted at the biggest windmills in the sport—Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Neymar—in hopes of making them their own in the midst of their post-Sir Alex identity crisis. United had the name and the money, but lacked the results, the manager, the players, the competitions, and the auspicious future to have anything more than the slimmest of chances of bringing in an established superstar to return the club to the heights of the past—heights many fans and the club’s behind-the-scenes leaders still refuse to believe they’ve fallen from. Pogba isn’t at that Messi/Ronaldo/Bale/Neymar/Griezmann level of greatness yet, but he’s right on the cusp and with all the tools to get there sooner than later. He’s exactly what United have needed and they’ve finally made it happen.