Four years have passed since Paul Pogba packed his bags and set off on a new chapter in Turin with Juventus, a decision which left many United fans baffled and gobsmacked that their club could simply let one of the world’s most talented and promising youngsters walk out the door for nothing. A critical opinion that has certainly been justified considering Pogba’s incredible rise over the past few years and the success he has experienced in Serie A.
After establishing himself among the world’s top players and having now completed his eventual return to Old Trafford for a world record fee of £89m, we look at what Pogba may be able to provide this new look Manchester United team under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho.
The Frenchman will feature in Friday’s Premier League fixture against Southampton according to Mourinho, and the manager will have a number of possibilities as to where he opts to deploy his new number 6. It’s been hinted that United’s system will not change meaning Jose’s favoured 4-2-3-1 will be in play.
Pogba is not likely to play ninety minutes and therefore probably won’t start the game, but when the 23 year-old is on the pitch, it could well be in alongside Morgan Schneiderlin at the base of United’s midfield. As the pair has often done for their native France, Schneiderlin can perform a holding role if set up in this way, providing Pogba with the opportunity to play more freely and establish himself upon proceedings. Playing a 4-2-3-1 system requires a body that can make runs from deep, win tackles and generally make things happen. This is where Pogba comes into the equation.
United have struggled in recent years to find goals from midfield players. While Pogba is unlikely to score too many a season, his attributes and power mean goals are always a possibility, and Premier League opposition will be therefore wary. The French international’s tall frame and physique are ideal for the English game and as hinted above, a box-to-box role could well be given to him. In his first two seasons at Juventus, Pogba managed 12 goals from 63 games; slightly less than the 16 he scored in 61 games in his other two seasons in Italy. This tally included some sensational long distance screamers along the way.
So how does he match up to what United now have in their squad? The world-record arrival means United fans won’t be seeing Wayne Rooney in a deep midfield role any longer and Mourinho had already made it clear that he sees the England captain as a striker only. With Bastian Schweinsteiger seemingly on his way out the exit door and Michael Carrick, another option that may be seen to lack power and pace, Pogba brings something to the table that United haven’t had for quite some time. Defensive nous with an eye for a goal alongside his cultured passing and creative ability, United fans have every right to be excited. Many will criticise the fee of £89m but in today’s ever-increasing football market, it may well not be too long before this transfer is seen as value for money.