IMAGINE a team being so good that they can afford to let a World Cup winner and four-time league champion leave for nothing.
An £89million club-record signing at the peak of his career with almost 100 caps for his country.
So I can only assume Manchester United have a blockbuster of a replacement lined up as they prepare to allow Paul Pogba to walk away as a free agent.
Because if that wasn’t the case you could only conclude that this is a club that really doesn’t know what it is doing.
Particularly when they are about to complete their worst season in the Premier League while clinging on for sixth place.
The Red Devils will argue that they have actually offered Pogba a lucrative new contract to extend his stay at the club.
But it’s blindingly obvious that no one really wants him to stay.
They are simply trying to prevent a 29-year-old player who cost a world-record transfer fee six years ago now leaving for nothing.
Because to lose him once may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose him twice looks like carelessness.
And United’s failure to get the best out of such a world-class talent is bordering on the criminal.
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Now most Old Trafford fans will almost certainly disagree with that assessment after Pogba’s underwhelming efforts in a United shirt.
And the way they booed him when he was subbed off during last month’s 3-2 win against Norwich showed they will be glad to see the back of him.
But you don’t win the World Cup and four consecutive Italian titles if you’re not a serious player.
And you certainly don’t have Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Manchester City all queuing for your signature if you are a spent force.
So you have to wonder why Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now Ralf Rangnick were all unable to coax the level of performance from Pogba which he consistently produces for the French national team.
Of course, Pogba has to shoulder some of the blame for his failure to live up to United’s expectations.
He has missed 89 games through illness and injury over the past six seasons and didn’t always seem to be busting a gut to get back into action.
And the number of times he took a game by the scruff of the neck and really dominated the play barely gets into double figures.
But it hardly helped being regularly played out of what he considers to be his best midfield position.
Nor by a constantly changing team and formation which left him struggling to find any kind of consistency.
Obviously, when a player costs that kind of money it is down to him to stamp his authority on his team-mates and make things happen.
But he is hardly alone on that front when you consider that since he rejoined United in 2016, the club have spent around £650m on the likes of Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek and Fred.
Because none of them have exactly set Old Trafford alight, either.
So maybe it’s not Pogba who is the problem here. Maybe it’s the whole United set-up which has allowed standards to slip so alarmingly.
Which is why we have to reserve judgment on Pogba until we see how he performs for his next club.
And only write him off if Carlo Ancelotti, Max Allegri, Zinedine Zidane, Julian Nagelsmann or Pep Guardiola can’t get the most out of his talent.