Player Focus – Paul Pogba

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Paul Pogba. The man who got away. When the Frenchman was sold to Juventus in the summer of 2012, it was met with mixed responses by fans as some saw it a good move for United, shifting what seemed like then dead weight but some saw it as something that would be later regretted by Sir Alex and I was a part of the latter and when I heard that Manchester United had let him ago, I knew that it was something that would come back to haunt them. I personally think selling Pogba is one of Fergie’s greatest mistakes in his managerial career and Manchester United’s midfield right now is missing that creative spark Pogba possesses, even if Juan Mata has joined. David Moyes and his team seem in dire need of a Paul Pogba-esque player in their ranks. I remember watching the Paul Scholes memorial match when Pogba replaced the departing Scholes I knew he would be a great player. The term ‘Wonder-Kid’ is given to any youngster who has a couple of good games nowadays and there have been quite a few of these so-called wonder-kids who have never seemed to live to the hype such as former Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson who was compared with Chelsea legend Michael Ballack as a box to box midfielder but now he is 25 without a club after being released by City in 2012, or United’s Italian incident Federico Macheda, who’s amazing goal against Aston Villa in 2009 propelled him certain stardom but now finds himself on loan at Birmingham City with little to no hope of making an impact into the Manchester United first team but Paul Pogba is different and is fully deserving of the term.

When Pogba joined the Italian giants, it was widely thought he would be a fringe player or someone who would be loaned out every season and not being able show their qualities for their parent club. Although he started his career in Serie A as a bench-warmer, Conte slowly put Pogba in the team and giving an unproven 19-year-old player as much playing time as Antonio gave the Frenchman was a risk and a risk that paid off in bundles as in his debut season he clocked up 5 goals and has an impressive 86% passing accuracy in Serie A. In the dominant season the champions had, Pogba was very influential and once he got used to the way of Italia, it seemed that the manager built the team around the Frenchman even though he had world-class players in Buffon,Pirlo and Chiellini and this season this has been no different, he has become an even more of an integral part of the star-studded Juventus team. The way Conte sets out his team has had a massive influence on Pogba’s growth and development as a player. Juventus run a 3-5-2 formation with a 3 man midfield of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio with the two wide men pushing forward but Paul is slowly starting ahead of Marchisio. The way the midfield of ‘PVP’ play is dangerous but is very balanced with Pirlo allowed to pull back to orchestrate and control the tempo of the game with Vidal free-flowing as the creative player and Pogba is situated to the left and when this works, it is one of the best midfield partnerships in world football, up there with the Barcelona trio of Iniesta, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas. They play with such a flow that it is very hard for the opposition to contain them and their job is made even harder with the fact that Pogba and Vidal often interchanging positions and this has a profound effect when attacking, boasting an impressive 24 goals and 11 assists between them in all competitions. As well as being an important part of Juve’s attack, he does get back and do the gritty work and his work rates are to thank for this, For a 20-year-old to have this much tactical awareness is a sign of a great player and he gets the team to tick, he has a great presence on the pitch due to his build and 6’2 height gives him an advantage as a defensive midfielder, which is his preferred position.

3 Man MD

The central midfield of Juventus with Vidal, Pirlo and Pogba highlighted (right to left)

Juve MID

The playing style of the trio, with Pirlo in deep and Vidal and Pogba on either flank

Paul Pogba’s style of play has a lot of great strong points such as his through-balls as well as his dribbling, when he dribbles it seems the ball is glued to his boot, his first touches are immaculate although his isn’t very disciplined and gives away cheap free-kicks often but this is understandable due to his young age and will hopefully mature as he grows older. Without a doubt the biggest asset to his game is his shooting and capability to score worldies on a somewhat regular basis for Juventus and he has scored quite a few eyebrow-raisers for the U-21 France team. He can pretty much score from any angle, from any range and any given time.  He has scored goals from a beautiful curled effort from the edge of the box to a perfectly executed volley from over 30 yards out with enough curl and swerve to make even the best keepers afraid of his left foot and you certainly wouldn’t want to be the way of one of his strikes, unless you’re looking to get a broken nose. His right foot is as good as his left, making him very dangerous on either side and one of the best two footed players in the world such as Santi Cazorla and fellow young star Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior. Paul Pogba is one of the best young talents in Europe without argument with the likes of Neymar, Mario Götze and Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj,. His development as a player shows no sign of slowing down and if carries on the way he is playing, we could potentially be looking at a future Ballon D’or winner in the next 5 years time.

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