Could Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Really Unlock Pogba’s True Potential?

Much has been made of the ‘restrictions’ placed on Paul Pogba since his return to Manchester United. Having enjoyed a great spell at Juventus, the Frenchman was expected to illuminate the Premier League with flair, insane pieces of play and most of all, productivity.

While Pogba has managed to do all that, he hasn’t been consistent enough due to his tactical deployment. Pogba possesses an expansive skillset – he’s an exceptional dribbler, his passing (both long and short) is very accurate and in addition to that, he’s solid in front of goal.

On paper, he’s basically the ultimate playmaker, but his current role at Manchester United has prevented him from consistently making use of his best qualities, thus resulting in some lacklustre showings from the 25-year-old.

For most of the recently concluded Premier League campaign, Jose Mourinho deployed Pogba as a central-midfielder alongside Nemanja Matic in a 4-2-3-1 formation. A lot of tracking back was involved in Pogba’s role last season which often prevented him from making regular forward runs due to his defensive responsibilities.

A player of Pogba’s talents ought to have a free role to roam between the middle of the pitch and attacking third as he’d be able to exert his influence on games a lot more than he currently does at Manchester United – a 4-3-3 system would grant Pogba that freedom.

For the Frenchman to really hit the peak of his powers, though, he needs to be deployed alongside a midfield powerhouse, and a defensive-minded midfielder. Manchester United already have the latter in the form of Nemanja Matic, but they currently lack the former, but if recent reports are anything to go by, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic could be United’s midfield powerhouse come next season.

The Serbia international had a fantastic 2017/18 season with Lazio scoring 12 goals in 33 league starts en route to a 5th-place finish. Lazio narrowly missed out on a Champions League place following a 2-2 draw against Inter Milan in their final game of the season.

Milinkovic-Savic stands at 6’3, but despite his towering frame, he’s got excellent footwork. The Serb is somewhat of a machine in midfield thanks to his physicality as he’s capable of shrugging players off the ball with ease. He’s also good in the air thanks to his height and tremendous jumping power which often sees him win most of his aerial duels.

Ideally, he’d feature on the right side of a 4-3-3 formation with Nemanja Matic keeping the midfield on lock-down in the middle of the park while Pogba features in a similar role to the one he played at Juventus – on the left of the triumvirate.

That arrangement could transform Manchester United into a team capable of rivalling Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in terms of sheer attacking power.

Alongside Matic and SMS, Pogba would be able to make intelligent runs and through various channels which would, in turn, allow him to truly make his presence felt in games, as opposed to attempting to dictate games from deep.

Sergej-Milinkovic Savic would cost Manchester United well over €90m, but considering the profound effect he could have on the team, the Red Devils would do well to splash the cash on him.

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Phillip Ekuwem
Phillip is a freelance football writer with a keen interest in European football. His work can be found on the Daily Mirror, Planet Football, Football.London, Football Whispers, Tribal Football et al.

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