Manchester United FC

A reminder that Paul Pogba is actually pretty good at football

Jan 13, 2021, 5:30 PM GMT
Paul Pogba has been excellent in recent weeks
Paul Pogba has been excellent in recent weeks | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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It's a sad state of affairs that when you think about Paul Pogba, his footballing ability isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

If you were to just follow social media for updates on his form and performances, you'd be disappointed. You'd see more about his haircuts, his dance moves and his agent than you would about what he is actually doing on a football pitch.

All that despite the fact that, before he arrive at Old Trafford he'd won four Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia crowns, and while at Old Trafford he's won the EFL Cup, the Europa League and a bloody FIFA World Cup with France.

Paul Pogba
Pogba is a World champion with France | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Yet his time in England the second time around is largely regarded as a failure.

After joining from Juventus for a then world record fee of £89m, Pogba entered a Manchester United team coached by Jose Mourinho and was expected to be the leader in a new era for the club. Both the Europa League and EFL Cup came in the first season, but since then his influence at the Red Devils has waned.

The second season saw him fall out with the manager, and the third saw Mourinho leave and be replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He ended his third season back at United as the club's top goalscorer, top assister, best tackler and best creator. He was everything at the club on the pitch and that was part of his downfall. With a skillset so broad and of such high quality, Pogba was tasked with doing several jobs rather than just his own to offset the lack of quality in the squad.

Pogba was fantastic in 2018/19 after Solskjaer came in
Pogba was fantastic in 2018/19 after Solskjaer came in | Opta/Squawka

Last season - his fourth at the club - was tough for Pogba as he missed the majority of the campaign through injury, but it was no shock that upon a return to full fitness after the COVID-enforced break that the Reds picked up form and stormed their way to a third place finish in the Premier League.

This season didn't start particularly well for the midfielder. Pogba suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury from the previous campaign, before testing positive for COVID-19. While he was back in the team relatively quickly - after testing negative - the club maintained that he never truly recovered his fitness levels until recently.

While he had a great game in the 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League, his performances had noticeably dipped in the immediate aftermath of his return to first team football - he even lost his place in the starting XI to Fred.

However, recently he has earned his starting role back, albeit in a slightly altered position, and he has been key to charge that has seen United climb to the top of the table.

Since the West Ham fixture in particular, where he was the stand-out performer despite the team falling behind before scoring a screamer to equalise, Pogba has clearly turned over a new leaf at the club.

He is dictating play from deep, affecting games in the final third, performing well defensively and, overall, doing everything you could ask of him.

His ability with both feet is unmatched in the United squad, he is physically imposing, exceptionally gifted with the ball at his feet when it comes to skill and passing and he's a goal threat. Manchester United fans haven't forgotten that and know that the team is better with him than without.

The main concern is the circus that surrounds him, but when you just focus on the footballer that is Paul Pogba, you can't deny the talent that is there.

He is a supreme footballer and when it clicks for him, he is one of the best central midfielders in world football.

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