Juventus appear to be entering a second chapter of the Antonio Conte era this season.
In the third year since the 44-year-old took charge of the Old Lady, the Bianconeri have switched focus from domestic domination to targeting success in the Champions League once again—something that has often been missing throughout the Turin club's history.
The midfield has been the jewel of Conte's 3-5-2 system that has made his Juve stand out from the majority of the other giants of European football.
Whether that system can translate to the Champions League is yet to be known, but one thing has been discovered, at this premature stage of the season, is that Paul Pogba is indispensable.
Since Nedved, Juve didn't have a player with a ceiling as high as Pogba's. He'll be a phenomenon the football world will talk about for yrs.— Bassel (@The_Juventino) September 25, 2013
The Frenchman has probably not received the adulation that he deserves when you look at the raw facts—a 20-year-old midfielder with just three professional appearances, before he joined the club, has forced his way into a midfield that included world-class teammates such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.
A combination of a blunt strike force last season—leading to Conte modifying the 3-5-2 into a 3-6-1 formation—alongside the injury to Marchisio in the Supercoppa against Lazio has meant that Pogba has bedded into the Bianconeri lineup.
A stunning series of performances in the Under-20 World Cup this summer proved beyond doubt that he is the best young midfielder in European football, and to have such a rare talent has compromised Juve's medium-to-long-term plans.
With rumours surrounding the futures of Pirlo—whose contract expires next summer—and Marchisio, who attracted a bid from Monaco this summer, according to L'Equipe (via Football Italia), as well as interest from Manchester United, according to the Express.
You can sense that the Bianconeri are aware that they need to make Pogba feel wanted and address any concerns he might have about his long-term future in the side.
This skill by Pogba is the highlight of the match for me. What a player http://t.co/LSMeoCfbsZ— Chris (@Juventini_1897) September 25, 2013
So what makes Pogba so special?
Well, the first thing you notice is that Pogba is one of the most naturally gifted athletes you will see and he is yet to reach his physical potential.
Standing at 6'3", Pogba has the frame to be able to impose himself on any opponent, and this means that the Frenchman can deal with any rough tactics that will continue to come his way.
With such long legs, leading Juventini to give him the nickname Polpo Paul (Octopus in Italian), Pogba is able to stretch games in transition, covering huge stretches of ground.
These physical gifts are complimented by exceptional technical qualities that mean Pogba can dominate at both ends of the pitch.
I honestly believe Pogba is one of the top 50 players in the world at the moment. Not a prospect, not one for the future. NOW.— l'architetto (@juventus_fc_fan) September 25, 2013
Pogba has actually given Juve another dimension by removing the predictability that the team possessed initially without him in the side, as Leonardo Bonucci's short distribution would seldom find anybody aside from Pirlo.
With the ability to spray passes over a longer distance too, you begin to understand why Juve are starting to reconsider whether to offer an extension to Pirlo's contract.
Unlike Pirlo at this stage of his career, Pogba can split defences with short passes in and around the penalty area, and this causes problems to the opposition, as we also know that Pogba is able to shoot with deadly accuracy from distance.
With all of this considered, as well as the fact that Pogba is already contributing to a high level, it is clear that Juve need to prioritise rebuilding this next phase of the Conte era around Pogba.