At first, I thought of making this category “cost”, but that’s far too easy and does not provide a fair or realistic assessment of how each transfer would affect the team financially. Because we could say, “Pogba free, SMS very expensive,” and call it a day. However, this analysis is reductive, even though it is true. Pogba will be a free transfer, whereas Lazio could ask for €80m to sell a midfielder who is arguably the best at the position in Serie A.
As Juventini know, though, free transfers are not free. Look at all the failed moves of such kind in midfield that Juve have made and how these players have held back the team and have also been nearly impossible to get rid of. Reality is not FIFA. Juve have realized that you cannot buy free agents and then sell them for a significant profit years later. It’s not that easy. Other teams are not that stupid.
Pogba will have little transfer value if Juve sign him. If he explodes in Turin, he could, but PSG would probably be the only future suitor. Because you have to remember, as a free agent – and especially a Mino Raiola client – Pogba will command a massive salary. Very few teams could afford that salary in a transfer. Again, Juventini know this from experience. Therefore, Pogba, at the age of 29, has just about no future resale value. He is a free signing in his transfer fee, but not in wages. And he is a net-zero investment who could, due to his injury risk, become a financial burden if he fails to live up to his wages.
Now we come to Milinkovic-Savic. I honestly doubt Juve would have to pay €80m because these initial transfer fees reported in the media are always bloated. There is one more thing to note. If SMS does what other players, such as Dusan Vlahovic this year, have done and makes it clear that he wants Juve above all else, Lazio can be forced to sell him at conditions that will facilitate a move to Juve (such as delayed payments and/or a lower overall transfer fee). But the point remains that SMS will cost a LOT, logically over €50m. His wages won’t be insignificant, but it is entirely fair to say that he will cost much less than Pogba in wages.
Depending on how much Juve pay for SMS, he could become worth more than the initial investment, but this is unlikely. The reason is that SMS is 27, and so if Juve were to sell him in the future, they would likely do so when he is around 30, at which point he would no longer be an investment for other clubs. There would almost certainly be suitors – with more teams being able to fit Milinkovic-Savic’s wages than Pogba’s – but SMS is not someone to sign for resale value.
That is the case for both players. Juventus are signing someone who can be an upgrade and a star for the next few seasons. From that perspective, SMS is a better investment on cheaper wages and at the age of 27 with more recent production to fall back on.
The issue related to cost is whether or not Juve can afford the transfer fee, having already invested significantly in Federico Chiesa, Manuel Locatelli, and Dusan Vlahovic – all younger than SMS, by the way. They can afford Pogba’s ‘free’ fee, but can they risk his wages?
It is a different financial investment for both. But, in either case, it all boils down to whether or not Juve think the risk is worth the rewards. And Milinkovic-Savic is the safer investment.
Advantage: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
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Paul Pogba has the advantages of being a free transfer, familiar with Juventus, a more well-known/marketable player, and a creative genius in midfield.
However, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is the better signing despite his likely fee. He is younger, his recent production is significantly higher, his injury risk is lower, and his wages will be more affordable, making him a safer investment. Furthermore, he offers more goals, superior defensive output, and ball progression, which are all traits coveted – and needed – in the Juventus midfield.
Winner: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic