Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United on the 8th of August 2016 for a world record fee of £89m. Fast forward 7 months and the midfielder has had an indifferent start to his career at United, or maybe poor if you believe those who judge the player on his monumental fee.
Pogba has scored 7 goals in all competitions so far for United. Again, not highly impressive, is it? That’s again if you believe those who judge the player on his goals and assists. Sometimes, to understand the best of things, you need to change your vision.
Let’s change our vision and look at him in a more analytical way. Pogba has made 1.8 successful tackles per game in the Premier League so far this season, making a total of 84 tackles in the league, just 4 less than Jordan Henderson, who is a much more defensive midfielder. Pogba has been dribbled past only 29 times this season, nine less than Henderson and two less than N’Golo Kante. This stat shows another one of Pogba’s feature – physicality. He has also made 1.2 interceptions per game, an impressive stat for a midfielder who is very attack-minded.
Pogba has been fouled 59 times this season in the Premier League, which shows that he is a target for the opposition. And despite it not being his job, Pogba has still made 36 clearances, 7 more than Kante. As Henderson and Kante are often called as ‘work engines’, Pogba’s defensive contribution shows that he is still capable defensively despite being much more of a roaming playmaker.
Moving onto the attacking front, Pogba has made a staggering 2.4 successful dribbles per game this season in the Premier League, better than a lot of midfielders in Europe. Pogba has won three aerial duels per game as well, showing another strong quality of him – his aerial ability. He has made a total 75 passes per game in the Premier League this season. He has also made 2 key passes per game, showing another asset of his, his superb passing ability.
Paul Pogba has already shown flashes of brilliance this season. Yes he has squandered chances, but the thing to be noted is that he has been able to get into those positions. Of course, Pogba needs to improve his performances in big games as he has gone missing a few times.
Pogba is not the finished article yet. But, at the same time we should remember that United did not pay £89m for Pogba because he’s the best midfielder in the world, but because he has the potential to be the best. And with him being just 23, Pogba will no doubt be the best be the best in a couple of years. Another mistake in our vision was to think that he would settle in at the club straight away because of his time with the club at junior level. During his four years at Juventus, Pogba has become accustomed to a much more different game and the midfielder will take his time just like others.
As Paul Parker, a former United player said, Pogba needs at least 15 goals and 25 assists every season to justify his price tag. Maybe that is the reason he has not been that influential, because he has been trying to do everything possible to show that he’s worth the money. Versus Leicester in September at Old Trafford, Pogba had one of his best games for United. In that game, he did what he knows best, passing. He effortlessly made some beautiful passes during the game.
So, it would be best to take the pressure off Pogba and let him do what he knows best. Let’s give him some time and then witness him shred defences and control games, and hopefully witness one of the world’s all-time greatest midfielders.