On 8 August 2016, Pogba returned to former club, Manchester United, on a five-year contract for an all-time record for highest football transfer fee at €105 million (£89.3 million) plus bonuses of €5 million, surpassing the former record holder Gareth Bale. But is the France superstar any good?
It was never going to be easy for the 23-year-old to come into the Premier League and impose himself game in and game out. Pogba has managed 7 goals and 4 assists after 25 appearance for Manchester United.
Yesterday there was an highly anticipated FA cup semi final between two giants of English football Manchester United vs Chelsea. While most people will talk about two world class managers clashing with each other, i wish to speak about two players, one being Paul Pogba and the other his France teammate N’Golo Kante.
Both players play in a similar position for their respected teams however some may argue that one is more attacking that the other. Fair point but the fact still remains that after 25 games for Manchester United his manager doesn’t have a clue what his best position is. But this doesn’t mean that the manager is at fault, Jose tried playing him in every position in the midfield but with no success. Sometimes you have to wonder if the player just isn’t that great as everyone thinks.
On the other hand at Chelsea, the simplistic theory doing the rounds goes that Leicester bought the Premier League for £5.6m and Chelsea have now done likewise for nearer £32m three times less than Pogba. Kanté’s goal, his second against United this season, capped a trademark performance where he bullied bigger men off the ball and stampeded around the pitch tirelessly. Yet his display was made to look all the more impressive by his compatriot Paul Pogba’s inability to wrest any control for the visitors.
Looking at the game last night, in the absence of Ibrahimovic, this was a night when United needed £89m world-record buy Paul Pogba to step forward and prove his worth. Instead he did a disappearing act.
The contrast between the influence of Pogba, on the periphery of the action and conceding possession with alarming regularity, and Chelsea’s own summer purchase Kante was stark.
Kante was perpetual motion, starting attacks, breaking up moves and crowning another magnificent performance with the winning goal, emphatically drilled past De Gea.
Pogba simply could not get into the game, either before Chelsea took the lead or afterwards when Mourinho looked to his showpiece summer capture, the signing he set his heart on, to revive United’s hopes.
Chelsea’s fans revelled in Pogba’s struggles as they chanted “what a waste of money” – no such charges will be levelled at Kante, who looks a £30m bargain.
Some Stats. After 70 minutes, the stats doing the rounds said it all. This was an inspired performance from a man possessed.
- 0 shots
- 0 dribbles
- 0 key passes
- 1 tackle
- 1 foul
- 8 times dispossessed
Frank Lampard, watching the game in his role as a television pundit, was gushing in his praise of Kante after the game.
“I would go so far as to say N’Golo Kante is the best central midfield player in the world right now,” Lampard said. “I compared him to Claude Makelele last season, but he’s got even more to his game than Makelele.”
Former United defender Phil Neville, meanwhile, echoed Lampard’s sentiments by extolling Kante’s virtues.
“He breaks up play and then sometimes he finishes it off too,” Neville said. “He’s the most effective midfielder in Europe at the moment. I don’t see anyone with the influence he has on team. He’s a No. 6, an 8 and a 10.”
Kante, of course, was no secret by the time Chelsea did the deal to sign him from Leicester last summer. The 25-year-old was a key cog in the machine that Claudio Ranieri steered to the title last season and his loss has been keenly felt by Leicester this term.
On the other hand….
“We have to be positive, the players were phenomenal but Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch, he was a giant on the pitch. After him, all my other boys were fantastic. The specialists will say a lot about him and it comes from envy. They will never ever earn 10 percent of what he does.” – Mourinho said after the FA Cup semi final.
In determining Pogba’s success on the season, the final call will have to be made on the last day of the season. He was brought in to bring trophies back to Old Trafford and specifically Champions League football. If United wants Champions League football again, Pogba will have to play a large role.