Paul Pogba - a name that will draw a grimace to any Manchester United fans face. The one that got away.
Improved wages and lack of first-team football are the reasons most often cited for his departure from Old Trafford. Whichever the reason, the signs are that Sir Alex has made a costly mistake in failing to offer the French youngster either of the above.
For those less acquainted with Paul Pogba, one look at him will tell you that at 19-years-old he is a physical specimen. Comparisons with Patrick Viera have been drawn in many quarters, and it’s clear to see why. Built similarly, standing at 6’1 Pogba is capable of surging from box-to-box, making an impact at both ends.
Pogba is far more than simply physicality though. While he clearly can use his physique to dominate if needs be, the Frenchman is remarkably assured on the ball for someone of his age and has impressive range of passing. Five league goals in 19 appearances suggest that Pogba knows how to find the back of the net too. Something United fans might recall, having seen him score a wonderful goal for the academy against Derby.
I’m sorry United fans, but I believe there is no better place for a player like him to gain a footballing education. The Old Lady under Antonio Conte typically play with a three-man central midfield (with Lichsteiner and Asamoah providing width either side) containing Pirlo sitting deep, with Vidal and Marchisio in front of him.
With that sort of tutorage available, Pogba could stand to learn a great deal. With Vidal a master of winning the ball deep and creating attacks, Marchisio an expert at timing runs into the box and Pirlo – well if you can’t learn from Andrea Pirlo who can you learn from?
If Pogba has the desire to become the best player he can be in Turin, he has the tools at his disposal, a brilliant trio of mentors and what’s more he’s in the perfect place to attain a winning mentality so crucial at the highest level.
Pogba was fortunate enough to join a Juventus side in the middle of a 49-game unbeaten streak, which says a great deal about the strength of character in the Bianconeri squad. A 1-1 draw at the San Paolo in Naples last weekend led many to believe that Juventus are set for a second straight title, and progression in mid-week ensured Juventus will be there to challenge in the final stages of the European Cup.
For these reasons I believe Paul Pogba made the right decision in making the move to Italy, treading a path few have chosen to tread before in going so strongly against Sir Alex. But the biggest factor in vindicating his move to Turin in my opinion is the fact that he is believed in by Conte.
While Pogba has been brought off the bench on 11 occasions this season, it has often been in games which can give him valuable experience, for example in away matches at the San Siro and the San Paolo as well as giving him minutes in the Champions League. Moreover, Conte has trusted the young midfielder in games of real significance, like away to Shakhtar and Roma. Rarely was that the case at Old Trafford.
It’s fair to say no-one will rush to buy Pogba a pint on the red side of Manchester any time soon, but in my opinion the Frenchman’s decision is justified more and more each week.
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