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Paul Pogba: The World's Most Expensive Soccer Player

In the summer of 2016, Serie A champions Juventus sold midfielder Paul Pogba to Manchester United for a world-record fee of £89 million ($108.34m). With that one transfer, Pogba went from being a fantastic player for Juventus to being the man that would lead Manchester United back to the top of world football.

No matter what Pogba did in a Red Devils' shirt this season, there was no way he could ever live up to the gigantic fee; and anything short of a Premier League title in his first season would be seen as a failure.

Thus far, his return to Manchester United has been deemed a failure by many, and the man Jose Mourinho's side signed on a free transfer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is actually the one leading the side into the future. Ibrahimovic's play has greatly overshadowed his teammate, causing pundits like Frank Lampard to question why so much money was paid for the Frenchman.

Paul Pogba Money

"When you have a £90m price tag on your shoulders, you want to see results. He hasn’t quite delivered. If you want him to be the Paul Scholes of your midfield, is that a £90m player? If he plays there regularly and scores goals then it will change? Juan Mata scores goal, important ones. You expect Pogba to contribute a lot." - Frank Lampard

 

Ibrahimovic is not getting any younger, and Swede's days at Old Trafford are rather limited. Soon, it will be solely Pogba's job to deliver trophies and one far more important than the English Football League Cup.

From the northwest of England to Turin

From October 2009 until July 2012, Pogba was one of Manchester United's rising stars. He excelled with the club's youth teams and was earmarked for great things at Old Trafford.

Pogba wasn't happy with his role under Sir Alex Ferguson, however. According to the legendary coach's book – Leading by Sir Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz – it was the Frenchman's agent that prompted the player to leave. Mino Raiola has long been seen as a  super agent that draws the ire of coaches and clubs through his wheeling and dealing. It was his insistence to leave that led Pogba to refuse a new contract with Manchester United.

Signed by Juventus in 2012, Paul Pogba became an instant hit with the Italians. At just 19, Pogba helped the club to four consecutive Serie A scudetti. However, his time in Juventus was markedly different than his current fortunes in England.

Pogba had the pleasure of playing in a great Bianconeri midfield alongside Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio. Each midfielder brought his own special talents to the group, and paired with them, how could Pogba fail?

Pogba's goal statistics were solid, but it wasn't until 2015-16 as the main man in the Juventus side that he really broke out. His eight goals and 12 assists in 35 Serie A games proved he could be a team leader; although many still saw cracks in his game that were papered over by the excellent players around him.

Pogba Return's to Old Trafford

Unlike at Juventus, the talent at Manchester United that surrounds Pogba is nowhere near as strong. Regardless of who is paired next to him, Pogba and Manchester United lack a ball winner in the center of the park. Lacking the likes of the workhorses he had in Marchisio or Vidal at Juventus, prevents Pogba from having the freedom to spray the ball around the pitch.

Mourinho's often negative tactics haven't helped the Frenchman's play as he typically sits in a midfield pair that protects the back four. None of these things have helped Pogba to live up to his price tag.

Is Pogba doomed to be a big money failure?

If there is one thing that we have learned over the years since the Premier League debuted, it is that Manchester United will spend money to upgrade the team.

The club is already being linked with another Serie A midfield star. This time it is Roma's Kevin Strootman that is being courted. The Red Devils have been linked with the Dutchman for some time, but the team has failed to follow through due to Strootman's injury record.

There is no doubt Pogba needs better defensive players around him in the midfield if he is going to be the star he was a Juventus. Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini nor Herrera are capable of being the protection Paul Pogba needs. If he is to become the high-priced star Manchester United tit had bought, he will need help in fulfilling that potential. 

By Drew Farmer, author of Soccer Travels


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