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Juventus: Why Paul Pogba Has Exceeded Expectations for Juve

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentOctober 9, 2016

Juventus: Why Paul Pogba Has Exceeded Expectations for Juve

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    When Paul Pogba left Manchester United—a team that had a gaping hole in the centre of midfield—for unbeaten Serie A champions Juventus, the decision was universally panned. 

    The teenager was joining a Bianconeri side who had arguably the most complete midfield triumvirate in world football.

    Logic suggested that he wasn't even going to get on the field with the MVP (Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo) midfield being such a pivotal factor in Juve going unbeaten in league play last season.

    However, he has. 

    This article will outline why Pogba has exceeded expectations for Juve.

Revisiting Paul Pogba's Decision

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    When Paul Pogba chose to desert Manchester United, it offered some moral comfort to former club Le Havre, who had lost him to United under similar acrimonious circumstances. 

    In 2009, feeling his academy players were being poached by bigger clubs like United, Le Havre managing director Alain Belsoeur launched a scathing attack (via The Guardian):

    It is a very serious case. We are confident that we'll win [1] because it is in the best interests not just of our club but of sport. We spend €5 million [£4.3 million] on our academy every year out of a turnover of €12 million. It is a huge investment.

    We do that to give a chance to our players to develop for our first team, not to be an academy for others. What is the point of investing in an academy if the players leave at 16? This is clearly a message from FIFA to protect the education system.

    In December 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson was candid about Pogba's contractual dispute (via ESPN FC):

    He's got an agent [2] who's obviously become a bit difficult but we're negotiating with this agent and we want the boy to stay. 

    Matt Busby summed it up perfectly, that you don't need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, it will eventually find you. If you're good enough, you will earn money and become rich playing for us, there's no doubt about it.

    When it was clear that Pogba was running down his contract to sign with Juventus, Ferguson accused the French youngster of disrespecting the club on MUTV (via Football-Italia.net). 

    Pogba responded to L'Équipe (via SportingLife.aol.co.uk): 

    A 19-year-old player who said no to Ferguson—maybe he took it badly?

    The coach trusted me, but he didn't play me, saying I was too young. He said 'Your time will come' but it didn't come.

    I didn't go to Juve because I knew I would be part of the starting line-up. I have no guarantee.

    When I was at Manchester United, I have been told I would play.

    The reason why Pogba didn't play the amount of minutes he wanted was because he didn't sign his extension on the dotted line.

    What if he was played more? Would he have been more inclined to extend his contract?

    There was enough discord in his relationship with the club that he basically spent the latter part of his United career counting down the days till Bosman freedom. 

     

    [1] Le Havre took the Pogba case to FIFA, who ruled in United's favour. The English club had threatened to sue Le Havre over allegations that Pogba's parents were offered economic incentives, which swayed Pogba to sign for United. Both clubs settled their differences

    [2] Pogba's agent is Mino Raiola, who is notoriously hard for clubs to negotiate with. According to Ian Herbert at The Independent, Raiola secured a £1.6 million commission from Juve. He is also the agent of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Mario Balotelli.

Paul Pogba: World-Class Midfielder in the Making

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    It was slightly amusing to watch Paul Pogba strut onto the field against Chievo, who coincidentally donned the colours of Newton Heath.

    His passing was tidy in the regista role but it was his defensive contribution that stood out—three tackles and six interceptions. 

    In the 0-0 draw against Fiorentina, who would have won the game if Stevan Jovetić's header found the back of the net instead of the crossbar, Pogba showed that defending came naturally to him. In particular, he made an excellent tackle on Adem Ljajić [1]

    Many took notice of Pogba following a cameo appearance against Napoli. In 19 minutes, he equaled the amount of completed dribbles that Sebastian Giovinco could muster in the entire game.

    And how about that goal from the Frenchman? 

    Following Hugo Campagnaro's wafted clearance, Pogba looked like Zinedine Zidane in judging the flight of the ball and volleying it first time with his opposite foot past Morgan De Sanctis.  

    Finally, against Bologna, Pogba was afforded more leeway to contribute offensively, since Andrea Pirlo was starting in a deep-lying position. 

    Pogba showed technique of the highest order as he touched the ball with his right foot to set up a curling shot with his left, which bent past Federico Agliardi and hit the post.

    Emanuele Giaccherini may have recorded the assist for Fabio Quagliarella's poached goal, but who provided the lovely chipped pass? 

    Pogba. 

    With Bologna trying to see the game out, Pogba headed home to claim the winner in stoppage time.

     

    [1] Ljajić came close to joining Manchester United in 2009. Partizan's then-sports director Ivan Tomić said at the time (via The Guardian): "I think that they [United] will regret this decision in future". Ljajić has failed to live up to the hype. In fairness to him, he is playing a lot better this season, but he couldn't get any worse following three seasons of ineptitude. 

There's No Doubt That Paul Pogba Has Exceeded Expectations

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    Instead of being a bench warmer or playing on loan at another club, Paul Pogba is showing world-class potential for Juventus. 

    He can influence a game with his defending, but since his shooting is freakishly good, it only makes sense to give him the leeway to roam like Arturo Vidal. 

    The problem with Vidal is his lack of positional discipline and worrying habit of committing pointless fouls.

    If it wasn't for Claudio Marchisio tracking back, Vidal's deficiencies would be more transparent. 

    Last season, the Chilean averaged 2.1 fouls per Serie A game, which was a vast improvement from his 3.1 fouls per Bundesliga game during the 2009-10 season with Bayer Leverkusen.

    This season, he hasn't shown the same discipline as he did last season, which is why he is averaging 3.0 fouls per game in league play. 

    For club and country, he's already accumulated six yellow cards and one red card this season. Sooner rather than later, he'll receive a red card in an important game that could cost Juve. 

    Pogba is a strong tackler, has world-class technique, can shoot with both feet and is a good passer. 

    If a €40-50 million bid for Vidal is submitted during the summer transfer window, Juventus have to accept it because they have Pogba, who has the potential to be a better player than the Chilean.

    Pogba is following in the footsteps of Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Piqué—giving the aspiring superstars stuck in Moss Lane an alternative route to further their careers. 

     

    Is Cleverley Good Enough for Manchester United?

    Should Wenger Rescue M'Vila's Career?

    Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com

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