This transfer window was going so well for Manchester United until Thursday night.

The club had finally secured the yet-to-be-announced signature of Jadon Sancho for £72.9million, are getting closer to acquiring Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane, and have been linked with a few other smart moves as well.

After years of haphazard transfer strategies, it's been shaping up to be United's best window in a long time. And then the news broke that Paul Pogba has this week rejected the lucrative new contract offered by the club.

United are willing to increase his pay by £100,000 a week, meaning he would earn over £50m per annum, but the Frenchman still rejected it. They have to decide whether to sell up now or let him go for nothing (again) next year.

It's a bombshell that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have done without. The fact that they were willing to increase his salary to such an extent is evidence enough that he was an integral part of the manager's plan for the future.

United's midfield was in need of upgrading anyway, but Pogba's impending exit might just bump that up to full scale reconstruction.

Scott McTominay and Fred are decent players that comprise a solid midfield, but a Premier League-winning double pivot they are not.

That's why the interest in Eduardo Camavinga makes so much sense for what they need; a more dynamic presence in the middle third who can clean up behind the more creative players while adding greater ball progression than 'McFred' currently do.

It would be a good start to constructing a functional midfield, but the problem is that the club simply have not shown an aptitude for successfully doing so ever since Alex Ferguson retired.

Pogba's return to United is as sure a sign of that as any. Hindsight is 20/20, but it seems obvious now that they didn't understand him as a player at the time and subsequently did nothing to build a team around him. He should take responsibility for his shortcomings, but a look at his midfield partners since 2016 illustrates just how badly the club failed to shape a winning team

Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, an aging Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, and the aforementioned McTominay and Fred. The one Pogba has arguably gelled with the best is Nemanja Matic, who has been on the downslide in his career since joining United. All good players in different ways, but none of them elite.

We can't ignore Bruno Fernandes either. The playmaker has been a spectacular signing who has raised the ceiling of this side immeasurably. He is without a doubt a net positive, but he also increases the workload on everyone else because of his tendency to lose the ball.

And although the pair have created some sumptuous football together, fitting Pogba and his Portuguese compadre in the same starting XI can be a challenge.

All of this is to say that it's not pessimism to be sceptical of the club's ability to assemble a midfield that can dominate the opposition in the English top-flight and the Uefa Champions League; it's just realism.

United have come so close to building an elite squad with a well-balanced starting XI. They even showed foresight for this very situation with Pogba by signing Donny van de Beek last summer, and their business this year has been very promising.

But all of that progress is for nothing if they don't press on and get the right deals done in the one area they need to the most.

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