Blog Written by Nicholas Dobbin (@1958MUFC_Calcio):
The talk of the summer so far has been that Manchester United are readying a world record bid of £100 million for the 23 year old Frenchman Paul Pogba. The very same man they let leave their football club four years earlier for free. Pogba became frustrated at the lack of first team opportunities at Manchester United, recording only three first team appearances being on the field for only sixty-three minutes of football during his tenure. The Frenchman in his early years was seen as ‘the new Patrick Viera’ for his tall, gangly, energetic style. However, in recent years he has been used as more of an attacking midfielder which has brought comparisons to Real Madrid manager and French legend Zinedine Zidane, who also left for a world record transfer fee of £47million from Juventus in 2001.
Paul Pogba arrived in Turin as a relatively unknown entity in 2012. However, the former World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo said “We saw in his first training session with Juventus that he was special. There was a disbelief among the senior players that Manchester United had allowed him to leave.” Paul Pogba immediately was placed alongside Pirlo in the middle of midfield forming a formidable threesome in the middle of the park with Arturo Vidal. A three that combined goals, assists, creativity, energy, power and bite. Something that Serie A sides struggled to live with as Juventus recorded their second Scudetto in successive seasons. Pogba himself in an interview with French magazine L’Equipe indicated that he was not in the same league as Messi and Ronaldo yet, while mentioning that he needs to add more goals to his game in order to reach his dream of winning a Ballon d’Or. What stems from this interview is his determination to win everything, “I want to be the best, I don’t want to be like everyone else. When I do something, I like to differentiate myself from the rest and I don’t like to lose… I don’t like to come second”. This is a mentality that is ingrained in you from a very young age at Manchester United and Juventus that you must win at all costs.
Nobody doubts the Frenchman’s talent. The question that remains is Paul Pogba worth a world record £100 million transfer fee? Since arriving at Juventus, Pogba has consistently scored and assisted goals from the middle of midfield. His statistics in the past three seasons have been similar in Serie A:
Pogba Stats at Juventus (ESPNFC.co.uk)
2015/2016 Italian Serie A- 35 Games, 8 Goals, 12 Assists, 124 shots
UCL- 8 Games, 1 Goal, 2 Assists
2014/2015 Italian Serie A- 26 Games, 8 Goals, 3 Assists, 56 shots
UCL- 10 Games, 1 Goal, 2 Assists
2013/2014 Italian Serie A- 36 Games, 7 goals, 7 assists, 73 shots
UCL- 6 Games, 0 goals, 1 assist
The issue with Paul Pogba is whether he impacts the biggest games at the highest level enough to be seen as ‘the most expensive man in world football history’. A question that has yet to be answered. His UEFA Champions League statistics are relatively average only scoring twice in the Champions League for Juventus. Also, now the European Championships are over, another opportunity has gone for Pogba to stand up and be counted at the highest level. By no means did Pogba play poor during Euro 2016 but he did nothing to convince anyone that he is worthy of the £100 million price tag. On the other hand Pogba’s rise has been very similar to that of Zidane. They were both the poster boys for the French National team, they both moved to Juventus relatively unknown, Zidane also left Juventus for a world record transfer fee and Zidane was also seen has a ‘big game bottler’ in his early career. This nickname came from three average performances in three successive European finals in 1996 with Bordeaux and 1997 & 1998 with Juventus. A nickname that he put to bed in the greatest possible way during the World Cup 1998 in his home country when he scored twice in the final against Brazil which secured France their first World Cup and another European Title two years later in Euro 2000, where Zidane played a huge part. Zidane’s greatest moment in his club career was when he scored arguably the greatest goal in Champions League final history as he scored a volley against Bayer Leverkusen securing Real Madrid’s ninth UEFA Champions League crown. These are the moments that separate where Paul Pogba is now and where Zidane was when he was winning Ballon d’Or titles.
To conclude, it is relatively obvious to all that Paul Pogba has huge potential that could rule the footballing world for the next decade. However, he needs to find that next level like Zidane, at World Cup ‘98 and many other legends of the game have before him. This is what stands in the way of him being considered as a genuine world-class footballer who could seriously compete with Messi and Ronaldo for individual honours in the future. To answer the question is he worth £100 million? Right now, the answer is no. Although, if he adds that last match-winning characteristic to his game at the highest level on a consistent basis there is no doubt that Paul Pogba will be a name edged in to footballing folklore for years to come.