English football has never really seen the best of Paul Pogba. The French midfielder’s natural talent is widely recognised, but he never flourished at Manchester United as many expected. With Pogba set to leave Old Trafford as a free agent this summer, there is much talk about what the 29-year-old’s future might hold.
Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain have all been mentioned as admirers of Pogba, with the Frenchman open to the idea of a return to Italy, where he played his best football several years ago. However, the most intriguing prospect is one that sees him move to Manchester City for the start of next season.
There have been numerous reports of City’s interest in Pogba recently, with Pep Guardiola keen to add the 29-year-old to his squad. For many, this interest was surprising. Pogba’s talent is undeniable, but it’s a very different player profile to the one usually targeted by the prime minister.
For starters, Pogba has often been criticized for his lack of work ethic off the ball. It’s at odds with what Guardiola is looking for in a player with Manchester City being very proactive in his pressing. Moreover, Pogba could potentially lack the focus to play for a Guardiola side. He is prone to lack of concentration.
And yet, City’s signing of Pogba would offer some sort of conclusion to the debate over the Frenchman – is he responsible for his career stagnation in recent years or is Manchester United the real culprit? Would Guardiola get the best out of Pogba or face many of the same issues faced by Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick?
The suggestion is that Guardiola believes he would be able to deploy Pogba in a deeper role than the one he was most often used in at United. The 29-year-old’s passing range is exceptional and there is reason to believe that would give Manchester City a different dimension in central midfield.
At Manchester United, Pogba has often been asked to play an all-terrain role in the center of the pitch. The Old Trafford club paid a world record transfer fee to sign the Frenchman in 2016 believing they could build a team around him. United never fully grasped Pogba’s profile as a player.
It is not he who structures. Instead, Pogba needs structure around him and he never had that during his time at Manchester United. He would have that at Manchester City though. Pogba would have Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne to share the midfield load with. Not everything would depend on him. Pogba could focus on his task with more clarity.
Recent reports indicate that Pogba is in favor of a move to Juventus or PSG rather than City. It’s understandable the 29-year-old might want a fresh start in another country after everything he’s endured in England, but Guardiola could give him much of what he’s spent the last six years looking for. .