After playing a starring role in France winning the World Cup, many were left wondering why Paul Pogba does not perform for his club like he does his country.
To put this down to lack of effort, or laziness, is an over-simplification. Last season, there was reported tension between Pogba and his Portuguese boss. Pogba was likely frustrated by the tactical constraints employed by Mourinho. In a more ‘free role’ in the middle for France, he was one of the stand-out performers in a world-cup winning France team, dripping with some of the best talent in the world.
Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly often a safety-first manager. His negative tactics have led to him completely shutting down games, such as the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield last season. His main desire is not to lose, rather than to set out to win. As an attack-minded midfield player, this is not going to benefit Pogba’s style of play.
Considering the problems at Manchester United last season, 6 goals and ten assists in the Premier League is a relatively good return. The midfielder is a real presence for the Red Devils, and when he is missing United lack attacking intent in midfield. Pogba’s directness and ability to pick out a long-range pass is key for Mourinho’s outfit.
However, he will never show his true potential whilst playing for a Jose Mourinho side. He has shown he is still a top-quality talent, but will never shine in the way he did for France in the World Cup, or Juventus in Serie A. There were few questions about the attitude of the Frenchman in these teams. It would be more sensible to look at tactical issues and personal problems between Mourinho and his squad, rather than a lack of effort or desire from Pogba.
It is reported that Barcelona have made an offer to try and prize Pogba away from Old Trafford. This would likely involve a cash-plus-player deal.
Paul Pogba would be wise to exit Old Trafford in search of pastures new. He needs a more attack-minded team where he is less constrained and allowed more creative freedom. His physicality, technique and passing range could be crucial for a team like Barcelona, where his talents would be utilised correctly. Under the Portuguese, we will never see the best out of the Frenchman. He will seriously regret not leaving Old Trafford this summer.