Fans of Juventus already know just how special Paul Pogba is. But at the 2014 World Cup, the rest of the world got to see for themselves as the dynamic young midfielder played a huge part in France's run to the quarterfinals.
For his efforts, Pogba was named as the Best Young Player at this year's tournament.
Pogba beat out the Netherlands' Memphis Depay and fellow Frenchman Raphael Varane for the award, per FIFA.com.
In five total appearances (four starts), Pogba scored a goal and added an assist, earning a 7.36 average match rating from WhoScored.com. According to that site, he averaged a key pass and three successful dribbles per game while completing 81.7 percent of his passes.
Pogba's goal was a key one, as it gave France a 1-0 lead over Nigeria in the round of 16. ESPN FC provides the highlight:
France would go on to win that game 2-0, and there was little question from anyone who watched the match that Pogba was the best player on the pitch during that contest.
Pogba's World Cup wasn't perfect. He lost his cool against Honduras and like most of his teammates was stifled by Germany. In general, though, Pogba not only excelled but also showed marked improvement from one game to the next.
Overall, there was more good than bad. Not surprisingly, the plaudits for Pogba have come fast and furious at this year's World Cup. Dominic Fifield of The Guardian passed along several examples of the praise headed Pogba's way from two folks who know a thing or two about the beautiful game:
Pierre Mankowski, who coached the under-20s to World Cup success in Turkey last year with Pogba as his captain, listed his qualities as 'technique, power, finesse, vision, mental strength... he has everything.'
'Paul is extraordinary,' he told France Football. 'The day he thinks he’s ‘arrived’ there’ll be reason to be worried but, at the moment, he is just full of ambition and drive as to where he wants to go.'
Even Patrick Vieira has marvelled at the abilities the young player possesses. 'People compare us but, where I would win more tackles, Paul is more technically gifted than I ever was, and far more at ease on the ball,' said the former World Cup winner. 'I’d busy myself with defensive duties, but he is only looking to charge forward. He can be one of the best in the world.'
Pogba has often been compared to the French legend, so the fact that Vieira has said Pogba is the more technically skilled player should pretty much say it all.
The fact that Pogba has played such a big role for both Juventus and his country at a World Cup before he's even turned 22 also says quite a bit about the youngster's future. He not only has at least two more World Cups in him but also a decade left to dominate European football.
Folks who saw him play at this year's World Cup got a glimpse of what is on the horizon for the burgeoning superstar. He wasn't just the best young player at this year's tournament; he also served notice that he might be the best player, period, four years from now in Russia.
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