Pogba vs Van de Beek: six factors for comparison
Real Madrid are making every effort to sign Pogba, while Van de Beek has become the top 'Plan B' option. Here AS looks at six factors to compare the players.
Yesterday, Donny van de Beek confirmed the reports. “Yes, Real Madrid are interested in me,” the Ajax midfielder told Fox Sports.
Van de Beek is Real Madrid’s ‘Plan B’ should they fail to execute ‘Plan A’: Paul Pogba. The young Dutch player has been on Madrid’s agenda for some time. But up to now, all efforts this summer have focused on Pogba, the number one priority for Zinedine Zidane. Here, AS takes a look at six factors to compare the two Real Madrid targets.
Price/complexity of operation
The first and the most obvious one to look at, of course, is price. While Van de Beek could be picked up for between 50 and 60 million euros, Manchester United are looking for offers from 200 million for Pogba, more than triple the price of the young Dutchman.
Madrid is not willing to pay more than 150 million euros for the French midfielder. But that is still 90-100 million more than what they would have to pay for Van de Beek, money which could be used to invest in more reinforcements. Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag has admitted that there is little Ajax can do if Madrid make a move for him. Thus due to the price difference and the simplicity of the operation, Van de Beek would be the winner on these factors.
The demands and conditions Zidane had stipulated upon his return to Real Madrid have so far been fulfilled, but there is one name that he has written in capital letters, and that is Paul Pogba. “We know what we want; we are working on it,” Zidane said when asked about the United player. The French coach’s standing on Van de Beek is clear, he is a ‘Plan B’. As such, Pogba comes out as the clear winner of the Zidane factor.
The differences between both players on this front is more than obvious. Paul Pogba is a World Cup winner, while Van de Beek just made his entrance onto the world footballing stage last season.
The Dutchman has accumulated 139 games for Ajax at the age of 22, while the 26-year-old Frenchman already has 320 games under his belt for two of Europe’s biggest clubs in Manchester United and Juventus. While it is true that the Ajax midfielder showed maturity and capability beyond his age in the Champions League knock-out stages last year, Pogba wins out on this front.
One of the biggest musts of a central midfielder at the Santiago Bernabéu is scoring ability. But between them, all the players who occupied the centre of the field for Madrid last season scored a total of just 12 goals in LaLiga. Those numbers are in stark contrast to the 13 goals scored by Pogba (16 in all competitions) and the 9 goals scored by Van de Beek (17 in all competitions).
The profiles of both players is quite different, with Pogba a much more leisurely player than the pupil of Ten Hag. Pogba has a big physical presence in the centre of the field, is always a threat in attack and has a phenomenal shot form distance, as we have seen throughout his career.
Van de Beek, meanwhile, is a much livelier player who likes to come forward to join the front line as a supporting attacking midfielder or even as a second striker. It remains to be seen if he could fit a formation with two central midfielders or if he would need two players behind him doing the ‘dirty work’, as Frenkie De Jong and Lasse Schöne did last season.
If we look at it in terms of the profile most required by Madrid, Pogba also wins this battle due to both his goal-scoring ability and physical presence.
In terms of adaption, Pogba wins hands down. He already shares the same mother tongue as the head coach, as well as with Courtois, Varane, Mendy, Hazard and Benzema. Pogba has already gone through the adaption of playing in another country twice. Furthermore, he will have one, if not both of his older brothers close by: Mathias Pogba signed with Spanish third division side Manchego CD recently, while Florentin Pogba has been offered to Madrid-based second division club Fuenlabrada.
On the other hand, young Van de Beek would be making his first career venture out of his native Holland and would not have the support of a compatriot to help him with his integration into the group.
Again Pogba wins on this factor. Pogba is one of the most popular players on social media, which is evident from his 36.7 million followers on Instagram, a figure well above the 809,000 who follow Van de Beek. The Frenchman also has experience of playing for Juventus and Man United – clubs that are heavily under the global media spotlight, much like Real Madrid and much more so than Ajax.
The jump to Madrid would be much more pronounced for the young Dutchman than for the French international, who is significantly more accustomed to the trappings of the media. The media pressure that Madrid players live with is very high and the ability to cope with it is a fundamental part of the development of any player at the club.
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