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Pogba under pressure to deliver for France

Les Bleus hope unpredictable playmaker puts his best foot forward at World Cup

Gulf News

Paul Pogba has displayed the versatility of operating in several positions on the pitch. At one time he can be in his preferred central midfielder position, or play to the left in a holding capacity or even as an attacking midfielder. His ability on the ball has won him accolades from every club he has played for, with his latest stint at Manchester United being touted from “powerful, skillful and creative” to “bizarre and unpredictable”.

Born in Lagny-sur-Marne, Pogba came through the junior ranks in his native France. He eventually joined the youth team of League 1 side Le Havre, before a long-running transfer took him to Manchester United in 2009. After beginning his senior career with Manchester two years later, limited match time forced him to join Italian giants Juventus on a free transfer in 2012.

Pogba flourished in Turin while leading La Vecchia Signora to four consecutive Serie A titles and two Supercoppa crowns. During his time in Italy, Pogba established himself as one of the most promising young players in the world and received the Golden Boy award in 2013 followed by the Bravo Award in 2014. In 2016, Pogba was named to the 2015 Uefa Team of the Year, as well as the 2015 Fifa FIFPro World XI, after helping Juventus to the Uefa Champions League Final — their first one in 12 years — which they lost 3-1 to Barcelona.

 A coach and player don’t have to be best friends. I had some problems — it’s mental. He put me on the bench, I answered on the pitch.”

 - Paul Pogba, on his relationship with Jose Mourinho 



His performances while in Turin allowed him to return to Manchester United in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee of €105 million (Dh420 million) — until now a record for English clubs.

However, Pogba’s ability to wax and wane between the sublime and mediocrity has come at a cost as there is talk that Paris St-Germain are in the process of lining up a sensational summer offer following a difficult season at United. The 25-year-old, 6.1 ft player has suffered the ignominy of losing his place in Manchester’s starting line-up to rookie Scott McTominay for both legs of their Uefa Champions League tie against Sevilla, while also being a constant source of frustration to United manager Jose Mourinho.

But there can be no doubters when it comes to Pogba’s eye for goal and a penchant for the spectacular. While in Italy, he was named ‘Il Polpo Paul’ (Paul the Octopus) due to his long legs that look like tentacles during tackles or while running. He was also called ‘Pogboom’ explaining his explosive playing style and energy on the pitch.

 Paul Pogba does not win you games on his own. You need two magical players.”

 - Former England and Manchester United player Paul Scholes 



With France one of the early pre-tournament favourites, Pogba surely will have his task cut out to deliver on the biggest stage in Russia 2018.

Profile

PAUL POGBA

Date of birth: March 15, 1993 (age 25)

Club: Manchester United

France: Goals: 9 goals in 51 games

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