With other recognisable stars like Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez having moved on, Paul Pogba has arguably become the most recognisable player at Juventus. Of course club captain Gigi Buffon remains hugely prominent, but even the great goalkeeper has taken something of a back seat to his young team-mate.
Whether dabbing in celebration of his latest goal, showing off a new haircut or being discussed in transfer rumours, the 22-year-old is never far from the news. Catalan newspaper Sport last week went so far as to say he had offered himself to Barcelona, per Eurosport.
Juventus have of course denied that, with director general Beppe Marotta telling Gr Parlamento (h/t Football Italia) that Pogba is “a great player” and that “he’s an important asset for our club, and we’ll hold on tight to him.”
His growth over the past three seasons has been incredible, going from being an unused reserve at Manchester United to a major part of last year’s double-winning Bianconeri. Reaching the Champions League final raised his profile further still, and his native France hosting this summer’s European Championships will almost certainly add to that.
Aaron West @ayyy_west
Paul Pogba: Look At My Dab https://t.co/0q4Q84vOrh2015-12-20 19:31:07
Yet for all his wide-ranging and constantly improving skills, there is one factor Pogba has yet to bring to his game; consistency.
Indeed, while he is capable of—and already has—single-handedly decided the outcome of matches for the Turin giants, those occasions are all too rare, with his ineffectual displays still far outnumbering his top-drawer performances.
Looking at his most eye-catching recent outing, Pogba was undeniably brilliant in Juve’s comprehensive 4-0 rout of Chievo, scoring one goal and creating another in a wonderful all-round display.
Adam Digby @Adz77
Paul Pogba #ChievoJuve 9(!) shots, 1 goal, 1 assist, 62/70 passes, 4/6 take-ons, 3 tackles, 1 int (via @StatsZone) https://t.co/7a8JocMEjK2016-1-31 19:11:14
As the graphic in the tweet above shows, he also connected with 62 of his 70 pass attempts (88.6 percent), completing four of the six take-ons he tried while also making three tackles, one interception and 10 ball recoveries.
It was a display that showcased his full potential, but stands in stark contrast with the contributions he has made since. One need not look too far for examples, with WhoScored.com showing the match against Frosinone just a week later saw him take seven shots, commit two fouls and turn the ball over on no fewer than six occasions.
That is the Pogba that Juventus supporters have become far more accustomed to, a side to his game that does not make the highlight reels or appear in easily digestible gifs, but it is also a factor which separates the good players from the truly great.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has repeatedly spoken of the need for improvement, telling a press conference in November that Pogba needs to read certain moments of the game better,” and it is a theme he has returned to throughout the campaign.
Even in the media gathering after that aforementioned victory over Chievo, the Juve boss spoke about how Pogba could have done more, again discussing the “room for improvement” and pointing out how he could’ve placed a particular shot more accurately.
Fortunately for Allegri and the Bianconeri, it is a mindset the player himself shares, explaining his desire to become even better in a recent interview with Telefoot, per Mark Rodden of ESPN FC:
I'm not going to get a big head. I've done nothing in football. I haven't won the Champions League. I've won the Scudetto but I'm nothing for the moment. I still have to develop, to learn.
I'm going to try and do things that few in the world have done ... try to win the Champions League, try to win the Euros. I don't like resting on my laurels... I always want more.
Blessed with a heady combination of pace, power, athleticism and technical ability, there is little doubt he can do just that and if—with age and experience—he can add consistency to that list of attributes, then Paul Pogba could truly be considered a world-class player.