Paul Labile Pogba is probably one of the most talked-about footballers on the planet right now. The French footballer is a talented midfielder and has won mostly multiple titles with Juventus and Manchester United. He even played a very crucial role in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph. Pogba is a former Golden Boy winner and won the Best Young Player in the 2014 World Cup. He is still adored by Juventus and France fans, but Manchester United fans have mixed views on the French midfielder since he hasn’t been able to create as much of an impact as they were hoping he would make.
Paul Pogba was born to Guinean parents on 15th March 1993. He has two older twin brothers, Florentin and Mathias who are also professional footballers. Pogba spent his youth career playing for a club near his hometown and later shifting on to US Torcy. After spending just one season there he joined Le Havre, a club who always had the knack of producing future superstars. Soon then Pogba became an integral part for France’s youth team.
Manchester United spotted this young talent and soon swooped in to acquire his services. The transfer was heavily complicated though with Le Havre even asking FIFA to probe the entire situation and also released an entire statement critiquing Le Havre. Soon however Manchester United was cleared of any wrongdoings in the entire transfer.
First stint at United-
Pogba soon made his Under-18 debut for United on 10th October 2009 after his transfer was sealed. Pogba kept on impressing for the youth side by scoring great goals and putting in top performances against sides like Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth. He starred against Sheffield United in the Youth Cup final and helping United seal their 10th Youth Cup.
Pogba was soon promoted to the First Team reserves. He yet again shone in those matches and was soon called for his first-team debut against Leeds United in the Football League Cup (now Carabao Cup). He came on as a sub at half time hence making his first-team debut. Soon Pogba made his first league start when he was called on as a substitute to replace Chicharito against Stoke City in the 72nd minute. More starts followed for him after he made his European debut after coming in for Michael Carrick against Athletic Bilbao.
A Fresh Start-
The role of a reserve player wasn’t meant to happy Pogba who knew his talent was being underappreciated in United. Hence, he decided not to sign a new contract thus deciding to leave on a free transfer to Juventus where he signed a 4-year contract.
Pogba soon made his first competitive appearance for Juventus on 22nd September 2012 where he played the full game. Pogba caught the eye of journalists after he scored the match-winning goal and in Juventus’s win against Bologna. Several journalists were full of praise for the young French midfielder. He played a key part in Juventus’s double where they managed to win the league and the Italian Supercoppa, where he was even awarded man of the match. Pogba was hence awarded the Golden Boy for 2013 after having a very impressive first season. Pogba recorded a total of 5 goals for Juventus in the 2012 Serie A.
Absolute Domination In Italy-
Pogba spent three more years in Juventus where he then recorded 29 goals in 141 appearances. Pogba’s young age didn’t hinder him from being a crucial player in Juventus’s setup. Pogba alongside Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo formed a very fearful midfield which was arguably one of the best combinations of midfielders in Europe. In 2014 Massimiliano Allegri replaced Antonio Conte which helped Juventus take the next step from Italian giants to near European dominance. Pogba signed a new 5-year contract in 2014 which pleased Juventus supporters. Pogba had two 10 goal seasons in 2014 and 2015 which shows his versatility as a midfielder. He recorded a total of 40 assists in his four seasons at Juventus. Blessed with a wicked long shot Paul Pogba showed the true venom that he possessed on multiple occasions for Juventus. In 2014 he was nominated for the Ballon d’Or where he was the youngest player to be nominated on the list. He won the Serie A for the second time and reached the semifinals of the Europa League.
On 11 January 2015, he starred for Juventus by scoring a thunderous volley which helped Juventus win their first game in Napoli’s home stadium in 14 years. Juventus won their fourth consecutive Serie A since 2012 and yet again Paul Pogba played a crucial part in it. In the same season itself, Juventus qualified for the Champions League final but unfortunately, they lost 3-1 to Barcelona as the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar ran riot, completing their treble.
The next season Juventus awarded Pogba the #10 shirt which was made immortal by players like Del Piero and Robert Baggio. Pogba kept on proving himself why he was one of the world’s best midfielders. He scored 8 goals in another successful campaign for Juventus where they went on to win the league and the Italian Cup. One of the most memorable incidents came when Pogba scored from a half volley in Juventus’s win against their city rivals Torino.
It was yet another successful season for him after he made the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year and also made the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI. Pogba lost several important players alongside him which included the likes of Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez. Still, it didn’t hinder Pogba’s gameplay and had yet another stellar season.
Return to Manchester United-
Paul Pogba was signed by Manchester United for £89.3 million which surpassed the then transfer record held by Gareth Bale by 5 million. Even though Pogba let Juventus he was still adored by Juventus fans and left with utter professionalism. Paul Pogba created huge ripples throughout football fans because every football fan was excited to see him return to the Premier League which was considered the toughest league to play in the world. Manchester United fans were truly over the moon with this signing.
He marked his return to United with a 2-0 home win over Southampton. Pogba scored his first goal for United after he scored against Leicester City. Even though he had the full backing from his manager Jose Mourinho Pogba didn’t do himself any favours after putting in multiple sub-par performances for United thus earning the wrath of football pundits on television. However, even with all the critics behind his back Pogba had a successful season with United winning the Europa League where Pogba even scored in the final and also won the EFL Cup. Manchester United even managed to get a respectable sixth place in the Premier League table. Winning two trophies certainly means a good season for any player but the media kept on criticizing Pogba because his performances hadn’t explained his hefty transfer fee. He finished with a total of 9 goals in the entire season.
The next season was tough for him as he had to face multiple injuries. He tore his left hamstring in a Champions League match causing him to miss 8 matches. Pogba was yet again the centre of controversy with the media critiquing him for his discipline and not completing his defensive duties which he would have to fulfil considering the position he played in. Jose Mourinho even dropped him in favour of young Scottish defensive midfielder Scott McTominay which caused him to miss multiple important matches. However, Pogba created one of the most memorable scenes for United in the entire season when he scored two goals in quick succession in United’s 3-2 derby win over Manchester City. It was certainly one of his best games ever in a United shirt. Manchester United ended up finishing second in the league and also finishing as runners-up in the FA Cup after losing to Chelsea in the final.
The next season Paul Pogba struggled a lot. After being named as the temporary captain Pogba’s performances deteriorated a lot and Mourinho even made the call of taking the armband from Pogba. Soon in September 2018, a video emerged of Pogba and Mourinho having a verbal confrontation in Manchester United’s training ground. Tensions were reaching a scary level between both of them and Pogba was subsequently benched for multiple games. After losing 3-1 to Liverpool Mourinho was fired which must have been music to Pogba’s ears because it was very clear that the duo wasn’t gelling too well.
Mourinho was replaced by United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. As soon as the new manager was appointed Paul Pogba revived his form and that too in spectacular fashion. He scored consecutively for multiple matches. He even managed to eclipse his goal-scoring record by scoring 13 goals in the Premier League. He played a crucial role where United defeated top teams like Chelsea and Manchester United in that season. However, his form soon dipped, and he was yet again criticized after his sub-par performances meant Barcelona ran riot against United in the Champions League. Manchester United fans were soon starting to lose patience with Pogba, and he was seen getting in a verbal altercation with fans after United lost 2-0 to relegated side Cardiff at home. Even though it was an unimpressive end to the season this was Pogba’s best season ever statistically where he scored 16 goals and 11 assists, and he was even named in the 2019 PFA Team of the Year.
The summer of 2019 was a very weird summer for United. Not only did they release some of their previous key players like Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez without having proper backup they had their star player Paul Pogba confessing that he wanted to move out of United. He said this “it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else” in an interview. He has had a torrid 2019-20 season where he has had to sit out multiple matches due to a foot injury and had to even suffer racist online abuse after missing a penalty against Wolves.
There is no point in denying that Pogba plays in a less good team than he did at Juventus which might have hindered his performances. He has been a lightning rod for criticism since leaving Turin in 2016 mostly because of his sub-par performances. Pogba is still United’s best and key player and also is a world-class talent.
Pogba has improved his goal-scoring records after joining United because he has been United’s penalty taker. Pogba scored a total of 22 goals in his first 100 Serie A games whereas he has scored 13 times more than that playing for the Red Devils. Only three midfielders, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson have scored more than him.
His playmaking numbers have also risen since joining United and there are probably no midfielders who possess the skillset that Pogba has. He has to act as a defensive midfielder and a creative force at the same time. He also has the highest number of touches in the Premier League since joining United with 8190 touches. Pogba also has created 162 chances in his 99 games for United in the PL which has also gone under the radar.
Even though with such an impressive player in their helm Manchester United’s win rate is comparatively low to Juventus’. Therefore, it can be concluded that the reason for United’s underperforming cannot be singled out due to Pogba but rather the slightly inexperienced team that surrounds Pogba as compared to the team that surrounded him in Juventus.