Currently playing for Turin based club Juventus, 20 year old Paul Pogba is making footballing headlines for all the right reasons.
The French international was a Manchester United youth star who was tipped to be the midfield magician Manchester United had been lacking. Previously winning the FA Youth Cup in 2011 with MUFC, Pogba had already won over the respect of the dressing room.
Patrice Evra said “His talent on the pitch, his aggression, his presence, is very rare. He very quickly earned the respect of players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. It’s true that have you have to win over the manager too, but to have won the dressing room like he did was impressive.”
He was obviously thus a hugely talented footballer who would become a superstar in the future, so what happened at Manchester that resulted in one of the world’s brightest prospects leaving for a free transfer? In short the same happened to Pogba, what had happened to another great midfielder Roy Keane. Regardless of their ability they were shunned from the club. The simple reason for that was neither of them saw eye to eye with Sir Alex. Pogba demanded extra game time and extra wages. Sir Alex has historically been hugely against player power as Ruud Van Nisterooy and Keane will tell you, thus Pogba was told to take it or leave it. He did the latter. Thus in the summer of 2012 one of the worlds brightest prospects left a club that was in dire need of his services, over wages.
If one looks at it from a neutral perspective it is easy to see the argument of both parties. Sir Alex long held the philosophy that no one was bigger than the club and thus dismissed Pogba as he believed the youngster was believing in his own hype and was thinking of himself as the future of the great club. Pogba on the other hand was frustrated. Earlier in the season, Sir Alex had opted to play a midfield of Rafael and Park-Ji Sung rather than give the starlet an opportunity to prove himself. Pogba thought that his manager did not believe in him and left the club saying “I didn’t want to sign a contract as Ferguson didn’t play me, even though there were no midfielders there”.
Now lets fast forward to 2014. Manchester United currently lie seventh in the Premier League table and are in dire need of a creative Central midfielder who can provide their forwards with more than just scraps to feed on. At the moment in central midfield Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellani and often Phil Jones are doing a job but neither of them are currently doing it to a standard that is expected of a Manchester United midfielder. Neither of them offer the ‘complete package’ as Pogba does. His aggressive play and towering 6’1 stature makes him a physical presence in the middle of the park. He is thus able to tackle, intercept the ball and that coupled with his immense work rate makes him a great ball-winning midfielder. He is also able to pick out nearly any type of pass required. This could be a lofty chip over the defensive line or a simple but incisive one two outside the opposition box. In short his great passing range allows him to unlock the oppositions defense from deep or more forward areas. In fact he has done this 37 times this season as he has created 37 chances this season which is more than Luka Modric or Yaya Toure. Pogba also offers a thunderous long range shot. Videos of those I will let you have a look yourself, however here is an example of what he can do.
As Juventus sit pretty on top of Serie A and Pogba must relish his decision to switch England for Italy however recent rumours have been popping up linking him to a move back to Manchester United. Those however remain rumours, and as much as I’d like to see him at Old Trafford again it looks unlikely he’ll be wearing the Red of Manchester. He truly remains the one that got away.
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