Manchester United are said to ‘regret’ the enormous £375,000-per-week wages they handed David de Gea in 2019, and it could influence how they handle Paul Pogba’s contract situation this summer with the Frenchman now in the final year of his deal.
De Gea became United’s highest-paid player by some distance when he committed his long-term future to the club. But the goalkeeper, who was already struggling with his form since 2018, has largely failed to justify such wages with his inconsistent performances.
At the time, it made De Gea the highest-paid player in Premier League history, as well as being a world-record deal for a goalkeeper. Had United not agreed those terms, he could have started negotiating with other clubs a few months later with a view to leaving as a free agent in 2020.
The Athletic writes that some United officials within the Old Trafford hierarchy have ‘regretted that deal ever since’. Not only has De Gea’s long-term loss of form not merited such a contract, it also brought further wage inequality to the dressing room.
Wage inequality had characterised the preceding years – perhaps most notably with Alexis Sanchez’s monster contract in 2018 – and the club looked to be finally getting things under control until De Gea’s fresh terms broke any attempt to get a salary structure in place.
It is a similar situation to the one the club finds itself in with Pogba, who is on course to become a free agent next summer, and United now face paying the midfielder £400,000 per week to get him to sign a new contract.
But it is possible that lessons have been learned. Pogba isn’t rushing into a new contract and is known to be keen to give himself plenty of options for what, at 28, could be the last big deal of his career, whether that be at United or elsewhere.
90min already revealed earlier this month that United officials are split over how to proceed with Pogba. Some are conscious of the possibility he could leave as a free agent next summer, but others are unsure over whether he should be retained at a cost of £400,000 per week.
Have lessons been learned from the De Gea saga? Time will tell.