Since his £89 million transfer back to Manchester United, Paul Pogba has fallen under heavy criticism for not producing the types of performances one would expect from the now most expensive player in history.
However, slowly but surely Pogba is starting to show glimpses of just why United broke the bank to bring back the 23-year-old midfielder they let go for just £800 000 back in 2012.
Did Manchester United pay too much?
Manchester United were criticized at the time for paying so much for a player that isn’t going to score as many goals. Comparisons were made to the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín and Luis Suárez who were the four most expensive transfers in football history before Pogba.
But to judge him simply on his goal scoring ability would be much like judging Joe Hart on his distribution ability at the back alone, which saw him fall out of the Manchester City squad and leave on loan to Torino. At the end of the day Pogba is not a striker. Nor a winger. Instead a central midfielder, who has everything in his game that he needs to find himself in the top three best footballers in the world.
So far in the 2016-2017 season, Pogba has scored five goals and assisted three for Manchester United, which doesn’t look particularly impressive. Wind the clock back to the end of his season at Juventus that saw him reach 14th on the Ballon d’Or shortlist, he scored just 10 goals and assisted 16 and that was with a very settled team that has been dominating Italian football for several years.
What is happening at Manchester United now is the rebuilding of a team that has struggled since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and under José Mourinho it looks like it is going to be Paul Pogba at the centre of it. With the introduction of Michael Carrick in the United midfield, Pogba has been pushed further up the field into a more attacking role and is beginning to show the world what he is all about.
Apart from the goals he’s scored, which when he does he does in style, Pogba has shown that once he gets the ball he doesn’t lose it easily. The immense size of him coupled with his quick feet and clever body positioning means that he can keep the ball at his feet and can hold the ball up if needs be or switch to attacking mode and glide past a player or two to set about an attack. While his decision making still needs some work whenever he has the ball the fans sit up and there is now an expectation that something positive is going to happen.
Having already been booked no less than seven times already, he is clearly enjoying the physicality that comes with the Premier League and has not been scared to front up when needed to. This unfortunately has also been alongside some theatrics which has seen him booked once for simulation and received a lot of criticism for it.
If there is anything to sing praise about the player that is Paul Pogba than it his combination with United frontman Zlatan Ibrahimović. Ibrahimović arrived at the club at 35 years old as one of the most formidable strikers in history and has since scored 16 goals for the club. A superstar at a club all too familiar with superstars, Ibrahimović has formed a partnership with Pogba that is simply world class. The two currently sit head and shoulders above the rest of the squad, an interesting combination considering the 12-year age gap.
Whilst he still has a long way to go, Pogba in recent weeks has begun to show his class and whilst he might not have proved his price tag in the five months he’s been here. The midfielder has another five years to prove that he is worth every cent. Should he do that, the fans could very well be seeing the making of yet another Manchester United legend.