Paul Pogba stars in a new documentary series available to stream on Amazon Prime, questionably titled The Pogmentary.
It follows the French midfielder for close to a year, tracking his final months with Manchester United and the decision making process that was going on behind the scenes with the key people involved. But it also gives a window into Pogba's family life, his past and what makes him tick.
As soon as episode one’s pre-amble opens, we are hit with a rather epic narration; ‘Wherever he goes, he is shiny…like a walking star’. We are then immediately told that ‘some people are difficult to love, but Paul is easy to love’. It is all very self-grandiose, but then what else would you realistically expect from a series commissioned with a very specific aim?
Pogba’s memories are played out through animated scenes, including leaving France to join Manchester United aged 16 and the loss of his father.
We are also introduced to his family, his wife and sons, and two of the other most important people in his life, Mino Raiola – the episode is ultimately dedicated to the late agent, who passed away in April - and lawyer Rafaela Pimenta.
The subject of Pogba’s future at United is an early and continued theme and the club’s final home game of the 2020/21 season – a 1-1 draw against Fulham – is covered.
Away from football, Pogba is clearly keen to show that he has a caring side and at one point visits Manchester city centre to hand out food parcels to homeless people, discussing how a small act from him can be huge for someone in need.
What did we learn?
Raiola was almost like a father figure to Pogba and, presumably, his other clients. He spoke about acting in their best interest as if they were his sons. But while Raiola has always been the public face, Pogba hugely values the role that Pimenta played – he calls her his ‘business mom’.
Pogba genuinely thought he might be leaving United in 2021 and that Fulham could have been his last home game. It is also made clear that he doesn’t think the club did enough to keep him and perhaps only started to graft – to borrow a phrase from Love Island – once him leaving became a possibility. By then, was it already too late? “Players have to feel important in their club,” he says.
Yet an enduring love for United is clearly something Pogba wanted to promote. “You can’t say no to Manchester,” and “This club is in my heart, forever,” were two lines he delivered.
Raiola confirmed talks with Juventus, who he said could no longer afford Pogba – although he is now set to return there – Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The subject of Pogba's first exit from United was also covered, which Raiola said boiled down a lack of respect from the club towards the player, who was only a teenager at the time.
Pogba wants to go into film or television once he finishes playing.
Finally, Pogba wants his sons to be proud of their father and feel that he has been there for them, having been changed by the premature loss of his own father.
"Not even Jesus was loved by everyone…they crucified him."- Mino Raiola about his own divisive image
Episode two starts and finishes on the same general time-line that was established in the first. It is early summer 2021 and Pogba, having finished the club season is now turning his attention to Euro 2020 with France.
He works on his fitness at home with his personal trainer and his close friendship with Antoine Griezmann is established after his international pops up on FaceTime. “He’s a bit crazy like me, so there was a connection,” Pogba said of their instant relationship.
Family is a major theme that runs in the episode. Pogba and his wife, Zulay, take a trip to London with the children and ride horses. The player also opens up on religion and makes a stop off in the Paris neighbourhood in which he grew up – Roissy-en-Brie – to open a pitch named after him.
We are introduced to his mother, who is initially in her native Guinea for Ramadan.
In the background, the uncertainty over his club future still looms over him.
What did we learn?
Pogba really loves playing for France. It seems to motivate more than anything else in football, with the episode opening with his recollections of scoring in the triumphant 2018 World Cup final.
We found out that the French team were as surprised as everyone else by Karim Benzema’s sudden recall to the squad in time for Euro 2020. Pogba spoke about it with Griezmann and it is suggested that even captain Hugo Lloris was unaware until it happened.
Religion has been a major factor in Pogba’s life. He grew up with parents who had different faiths and was initially Christian, going to church, but his journey as a devout Muslim began when he first prayed with friends and felt something he never had before.
There is a strong idea that religion has changed him for the better. In his own words, Pogba said his faith has ‘calmed’ and ‘appeased’ him.
There is also a delightful story about Pogba’s mother sewing his name onto his first proper football shirt, but running of out light blue thread after P A U and doing the L in dark blue instead.
Overall, episode two is much softer and more deeply personal.
"It makes me forget all the pressure and being a celebrity. It makes me a human being."- Paul Pogba on family time
If episode two took a slightly slower pace to look at Pogba, the man away from football and behind closed doors, episode three ramped back up on the football and the transfer saga hanging over him.
Zulay and his children were in Miami throughout Euro 2020, but his mother and older brother Mathias went to France’s knockout clash against Switzerland.
Once France were out of the tournament after losing a 3-1 lead and crumbling on penalties, Pogba flew to Miami to reunite with his wife and kids. But he still had a call with Spanish network El Chiringuito, where Mathias was a panellist.
Attention was diverted to PSG transfer rumours, which were rampant in France. But Pogba insisted no agreement was ever close, despite the media claims. Raiola then called and spoke about the player doing what is best for his career and family, but also economically and for his brand.
With Euro 2020 over, a countdown to the transfer deadline starts. 60 days remain.
What did we learn?
Pogba had an early setback in his career when, aged 12, he was rejected by the legendary French football academy at Clairefontaine. He says it spurred him on to make it as a pro anyway.
On the transfer front, Raiola was never going to rule out continuing to speak to Manchester United, but was ready to speak to other clubs, including PSG, as soon as it was permitted.
Pogba himself also openly flirted with the idea of PSG during a phone call with a friend after France’s Euro 2020 elimination, discussing the club’s ‘dream bigger’ motto.
Pogba and Raiola clearly don't feel that being at United is allowing him to play at his best: “The French team gets the real Pogba…with Manchester, there’s something blocking you.”
Longer-term, Pogba would consider living in the United States in the future because of the ‘American way of thinking’. However, at one stage on the beach with Zulay in Miami he seemed considerably uncomfortable because people appeared to recognise him.
"I would love to see him at Paris Saint-Germain...the king is coming back."- Mino Raiola on Pogba's future
The whole of episode four is set against the backdrop of Pogba’s summer holiday in Miami. He speaks with Raiola again about his contract situation with United, before visiting friend and international teammate Blaise Matuidi at his waterside home in Florida.
Pogba also goes off to play basketball at Miami Heat facilities, as well as working with his personal trainer with a view to starting pre-season in good shape.
In between, there is a video montage reflecting on his four years at Juventus. Pogba also looks back on his injury plagued 2019/20 season and the impact it had on his mentality and determination.
It feels like less overall happened because certain aspects of the series, particularly the transfer saga, are now becoming laboured and repetitive, but there is arguably more to pick the bones out of. The countdown to deadline day moved from 57 to 34.
What did we learn?
Arguably the most eye-opening exchange in the entire series took place in this episode, and it is not one that reflects well on Pogba. He is told by Raiola that there is a contract offer from United, but not as much as they had hoped – reports have suggested it was an improvement on his existing £290,000 per week deal. Yet Pogba described it as ‘nothing’.
“They really want you to stay,” Raiola said on a video call. “For me, the offer doesn’t reflect that. If they want you to stay, they can’t make this kind of offer. I’ll make them understand…this time, they have to do something different. They have to put money on the table.”
Pogba replied, “They’re bluffing. How can you tell a player you really want him and offer nothing? Unbelievable.”
There is frustration from the player that the club perhaps weren’t actively doing enough to make him feel wanted. A cut away with Raiola at that point claims money is ‘not the beginning, only the end’, but it still feels like Pogba misread the room as to what the audience would want to hear.
Suggesting a contract offer worth millions over the course of a season is ‘nothing’ hits the wrong note and then some. It leaves a sour taste and anything likeable about him from previous episodes suddenly become quite forgettable.
During the episode, Pogba had spoken with Matuidi about coming from very humble beginnings and wanting his own kids to understand the value of money, despite their privileged position. Those are commendable moments that jar against the contract discussion.
Pogba’s admiration for the United States is also a point reiterated. It is revealed the family has already discussed moving to America when he finishes playing, something alluded to in episode three, as is his respect for US sports stars like Michael Jordan and LeBron James – but as much for their business acumen and accomplishments as their sporting achievements.
At one point, Pogba’s personal trainer notes that it is the best shape he has seen the player in during a summer. Yet injuries in the season that followed eventually limited him to only 20 Premier League appearances.
Finally, Pogba seems to give what disgruntled fans may perceive as ‘lip service’ to giving his all for United while he remains under contract. But he hints that the ability to win trophies, whether in Manchester or elsewhere, is the ultimate deciding factor in his football career.
"How can you tell a player you really want him and offer nothing?"- Paul Pogba on Man Utd contract offer
The Pogmentary, just shy of three hours in total, finishes with episode five.
Having spent the first four episodes actively discussing leaving Manchester United, Pogba and Raiola begin the finale with an about turn. Suddenly, the focus is that he is happy at the club (seemingly only because they weren’t prepared to sell him – but it keeps the ‘power’ in his hands).
A voiceover from a sportscast says, “Why should Pogba leave United, when United is building something good? At least on paper.”
Pogba speaks glowingly about Cristiano Ronaldo, while Raphael Varane visits with his family.
Away from football, he partners with designer Stella McCartney for promotional work and throws a birthday party for his youngest son.
Pogba discusses his injury in November 2021, ultimately crippling his final season with United, and heads to Dubai for warm weather training, which leads into talking about his challenging relationship with former manager Jose Mourinho.
He finishes by asserting that he wants to prove United wrong.
What did we learn?
Pogba seemed to think that United had a genuine chance of winning trophies in 2021/22 and specifically namedropped new signing and France colleague Varane in his justification.
Pogba tells Varane, “All the defenders need a mentor,” which was certainly a valid point when considering how Harry Maguire and co performed during the season.
On the looming issue of his future, Raiola alludes to Pogba often wanting to take his time over things. That has rung true as throughout the last few months, the player has been determined to delay making a decision until all the options had been presented.
Even by the end, Raiola still hadn’t ruled out staying with United. We now of course know that hasn’t been the case.
By his own admission, Pogba took his time to recover from injury. He was publicly criticised for heading to Dubai to recover, but he and Pimenta make the argument that he is happier working through is his rehab in that kind of environment. That was also a source of a major falling out with Mourinho, who accused the player of being ‘on holiday’ during a previous recovery in Miami.
Pogba’s final comments seem to hinge on proving doubters wrong, which kind of ties into a general theme of The Pogmentary as a whole. But if the expected audience reaction for that is one of sympathy and understanding, he doesn’t achieve it.
"My thought process is to show Manchester [United] that they shouldn’t have waited this long to offer a contract. And to show other clubs that Manchester made a mistake in not offering a contract."- Paul Pogba on his immediate future
There are some nice parts to The Pogmentary. Seeing sides of Pogba's family life that are usually kept behind closed doors, the relationships he has with his wife and kids, are really pleasant.
But you get the feeling of repetitiveness. Even though time is progressing as the episodes go by, the same general things come up again and again. What you see in episode one, you will see again in episode five but no further advanced.
The attempt to create some 'will he, won't he' jeopardy with regard to a potential transfer in the summer of 2021 seemed kind of pointless - the countdown to the transfer deadline served zero purpose - because we know that nothing happened.
Pogba also hasn't done himself any favours with Manchester United fans if he wanted to 'set the record straight' so to speak. His legacy at the club remains one of 'should have done more' and his comments about a 'nothing' contract offer, while perhaps frustrating from his perspective about wanting to feel wanted, come across as quite out of touch - all the more so given his own comments about humble beginnings and teaching his kids the value of money.
Overall, The Pogmentary has an air of being too manufactured. The animated cut scenes with voiceovers look good but are trying too hard to sell a particular narrative and it generally comes across as a little too try-hard to push the 'Pog' brand.
When is Pogmentary released on Amazon? How can I watch?
Pogmentary launched on for streaming on June 17, 2022, over a year after the documentary was first announced by producers.
A subscription is required to watch the programme on Amazon and costs £7.99 per month/£79 per year in the UK or $12.99 per month/$119 per year in the US. Free trials are available with terms and conditions.