Sir Alex Ferguson deemed Paul Pogba unworthy and his displays at the Euros did nothing to prove he should be brought back to Old Trafford.
Hey big spender. Careful.
There is no store returns policy on a £100million footballer and no cancellation clause in a £220,000-a-week contract which will run up a wage bill of £57m over its five-year duration.
If Jose Mourinho’s supermarket sweep this summer adds Paul Pogba to his shopping basket, then the new Manchester United manager will be confronting himself with the most daunting challenge of even his audacious career.
Investing the equivalent of the national debt of a banana republic in a player your club previously gave away for nothing is precipitous enough of itself to invoke a severe attack of vertigo.
Doing so for a footballer deemed deficient by none other than Sir Alex Ferguson is to stand on a crumbling cliff-edge.
Taking that risk with someone who played more like Paul Plonker in the European Championships just ended hints at suicidal tendencies.
Whenever, down his trophy-laden decades as the master of Old Trafford, Sir Alex was asked which qualities he looked for most keenly in prospective signings he would say something like ‘They have to be able to play. Then, above all, they must have the character it takes to be winners.’
Of course Fergie made some misjudgements but the minority of failures among teams-full of triumphs came as unexpected surprises.
Not if Pogba proves to be a pig-in-a-poke. Not after France 2016. United have been warned.
In this tournament, something appeared to have gone wrong with the young Frenchman who has won four Serie A titles with Juventus, the Under 21 World Cup as captain of his country and the Best Young Player award at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
This attacking midfield creative force became a peripheral figure in France’s stuttering progress towards the Paris final. When it came to the Stade de France on July 10, he disappeared into the mists of extra-time defeat by Portugal.
Paul the Power-house morphed into Pogba Le Poseur.
Therein lies a clue to what has become of him. The stardom, the acclaim, the celebrity – all seem to have gone to his head.
And, almost certainly, the money.
Not that he would be alone in that. There have to be serious suspicions that some of the England players who froze to defeat against Iceland, a tiny nation’s team which dared to dispute their airs and graces of superiority, turn out for their country more to market their brand than from a sense of pride and patriotism.
Paul Pogba played in the Euros wearing an air of entitlement, which smothered his commitment. That, coupled with the statuesque posturing of a body-building narcissist, was at the core of the stupefyingly inert French performance which allowed Portugal to win despite having Cristiano Ronaldo taken out shortly after the kick-off.
Re-galvanising Pogba will require all Mourino’s Special One powers. And even that may not be enough.
Once a player spirals down into that morass of preening self-importance it is monstrously difficult to bring him back.
Especially if his bank balance is bulging to the multi-millionaire extent Pogba’s will be if, as and when United finalise their latest bit of business.
Good luck, Jose. Looks like you are going to need it.