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How Will History Remember Pogba?

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How Will History Remember Pogba?

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In the world of football, few names have generated as much excitement and intrigue as Paul Pogba. In 2012, a young Paul Pogba arrived at Juventus, leaving an indelible mark on Italian football. His first training session with the Turin giants was nothing short of legendary. Giorgio Chiellini, Gigi Buffon, and Andrea Pirlo marveled at his brilliance. The consensus was clear: Pogba was something special, a footballing magician. As we delve into Paul Pogba’s intricate journey, we must grapple with this overarching question: Will he be remembered as one of the decade’s best talents, or as someone whose potential was forever unfulfilled and wasted for a multitude of reasons? This question takes on added urgency now, as Pogba’s legacy faces a precarious future, with a failed drug test potentially cutting short his career due to suspension.

The Manchester United Return

After a triumphant spell at Juventus, Paul Pogba embarked on a much-anticipated return to Manchester United in 2016. This homecoming made headlines for smashing transfer fee records and became a watershed moment in the footballing world. The weight of astronomical expectations bore down on Pogba’s shoulders, as fervent United fans ardently hoped he would emerge as the catalyst for a new era of success at Old Trafford.

Pogba’s return to Manchester United was nothing short of a blockbuster event. His acquisition for a then-world record transfer fee of £89 million signaled the club’s unwavering ambition to return to the pinnacle of English and European football. This colossal investment was not just about securing a talented midfielder; it was a statement of intent, a bold proclamation that Manchester United was ready to reassert its dominance.

The anticipation and excitement among fans were palpable. United faithful believed that Pogba’s dynamic style, incredible versatility, and sheer footballing prowess could reignite the team’s fortunes. He was seen as the missing piece in a puzzle that had grown increasingly complex since the departure of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester United’s faithful envisioned Pogba as the talismanic figure who would lead them back to the glory days of Premier League titles and UEFA Champions League triumphs.

During his second stint at Manchester United, Pogba produced moments of brilliance that showcased his immense talent. Iconic performances, such as his two-goal display against Manchester City in April 2018, highlighted his ability to influence crucial matches. His midfield dominance and precise passing helped United stage a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2, delaying City’s title celebrations.

Yet, Pogba’s time at Old Trafford was marked by inconsistencies and off-field distractions. Despite possessing the ability to control the midfield and dictate play, Pogba often appeared lethargic and lacked the dynamism that had made him such an exciting prospect earlier in his career. During this run of underwhelming performances, Pogba’s passing accuracy dropped, and he struggled to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. In a team where he was expected to be a driving force in midfield, his inability to consistently impact games became a source of frustration for Manchester United supporters.

His relationship with then-manager Jose Mourinho also grew strained, culminating in an infamous training ground clash caught on camera. Pogba’s flashy haircuts, social media presence, and outspoken nature occasionally overshadowed his contributions on the pitch, leading to divided opinions among fans and pundits.


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World Cup Glory

One of the most defining and resounding moments in Paul Pogba’s illustrious career unfolded on the grandest stage of all: the FIFA World Cup in 2018. During this tournament, Pogba’s contributions to the French national team transcended the ordinary and showcased the full extent of his immense talent. His performances in Russia not only solidified his place among the world’s elite but also highlighted his capacity to shape the destiny of a team.

Throughout the World Cup campaign, Pogba demonstrated his ability to dictate play from the heart of the midfield, acting as the linchpin that connected defense and attack for France. His vision and precision in distributing the ball allowed him to break down stubborn opposition defenses and set the tempo of the game. Pogba’s unique blend of physicality, technique, and footballing intelligence made him a formidable presence on the pitch.

While his creativity and playmaking abilities were evident throughout the tournament, one performance stood out as an exemplar of his impact. In the World Cup final against Croatia, a match that would decide the champion of the world, Pogba took center stage. He showcased his versatility and diverse skill set in a manner that left an indelible mark on the competition.

In that iconic final, Pogba did more than just score a memorable goal with his weaker left foot, a moment etched in World Cup history. He undertook a multifaceted role that epitomized his footballing prowess. Pogba not only found the back of the net but also orchestrated the midfield, deftly dictating the tempo of the game and launching attacks with pinpoint passes. His contributions extended far beyond individual brilliance; he was the conductor of the French orchestra.

What Made Pogba Special?

Paul Pogba’s unique playing style set him apart from other midfielders. His exceptional blend of attributes made him a formidable force on the pitch. Pogba possessed superb vision and passing range, which allowed him to initiate attacks from deep positions. He excelled at switching play, delivering long-range passes accurately, and threading through balls that unlocked stubborn defenses.

His physical prowess was another standout feature. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches tall, Pogba combined his height with impressive strength and athleticism. He was a dominant presence in aerial duels, both defensively and offensively. His ball-carrying ability was exceptional, as he could surge forward with the ball, breaking lines and putting opponents on the back foot.

Furthermore, Pogba had a wicked shot in his arsenal. His ability to strike the ball cleanly from distance made him a goal threat even when he operated deeper in midfield. His powerful drives often tested goalkeepers, and he was capable of producing moments of brilliance with his shooting.
Defensively, Pogba’s physicality and positioning allowed him to disrupt opponents’ play and regain possession effectively. He was not limited to offensive contributions but could also impose himself defensively when needed.

The Misunderstood Maverick

However, the question arises: why couldn’t Pogba replicate his international success at the club level? The answer lies in a multitude of factors, including his unique playing style and the situations he encountered at his club.

Manchester United, like many clubs, had specific expectations of how a midfielder should perform. Pogba was often misunderstood within this framework. The club expected him to dominate games single-handedly, an imposing task for any midfielder. His playing style, characterized by a penchant for flair and creative risk-taking, was not always in alignment with the conservative midfield roles often favored in the Premier League. Unlike conventional midfielders, Pogba defied easy categorization. His style of play transcended traditional midfield labels, blending aspects of a deep-lying playmaker, a box-to-box dynamo, and a creative force all in one. This uniqueness presented both a challenge and an opportunity.

Unhealthy Commercialization

Moreover, Pogba’s time at Manchester United coincided with an era of star fetishism, where marquee signings were made for commercial reasons rather than coherent footballing strategies. The club’s obsession with star power created a mismatch between Pogba’s abilities and the team’s needs, setting United back a decade. Key signings like Ángel di María, Alexis Sánchez, and Cristiano Ronaldo were brought in as headline-grabbing moves, often lacking a clear tactical purpose. These acquisitions were intended to fuel the club’s commercial endeavors and global reach rather than to construct a cohesive and effective team.

This commercialization of football overshadowed the on-pitch priorities, creating a disjointed squad where individual egos and star status took precedence over collective success. Pogba, with his flashy haircuts, social media presence, and larger-than-life personality, was both an asset and a victim of this star-driven environment.

Injuries and Failed Drug Test

Pogba’s journey through football has not been without its share of setbacks, most notably in the form of injuries. Throughout his career, he has battled with various injuries, and these physical setbacks have disrupted his rhythm and limited his availability for both club and country.

One of the most significant injuries Pogba faced was a meniscus tear in his right knee during his second season back at Manchester United. This injury kept him sidelined for an extended period and had a profound impact on his form and consistency. Returning from such a setback is never easy, and it took time for Pogba to regain his peak fitness and sharpness.

In addition to the meniscus tear, Pogba has encountered several other injury issues, including hamstring problems and ankle injuries. These ailments have often forced him to miss crucial matches, further hampering his ability to establish himself as a dominant force at club level.

Furthermore, Pogba’s career faced another serious challenge as he was provisionally suspended after failing a drugs test. If the testosterone found in his system is ruled to have been taken deliberately, he could potentially face a four-year ban, casting a dark shadow over his career.

As we reflect on Paul Pogba’s journey, his legacy remains uncertain. He will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the decade’s most talented midfielders, a footballing magician capable of extraordinary feats. Yet, whether he will ultimately be celebrated as a player who reached his full potential or as someone whose greatness was thwarted by a myriad of factors remains a question that lingers in the world of football. The failed drug test, with its looming repercussions, only adds another layer of complexity to the narrative of this misunderstood maverick.


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