Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard appear to be friends as well as teammates, having emerged through the Manchester United youth setup at the same time.
The pair both annoy the more old-school football fan to a similar degree due to their confident personas, on-pitch dancing and large social media presence with the strength of feeling exacerbated by their wages being paid by a currently underperforming club.
However, their footballing journeys to this point have been markedly different. Pogba, along with Ravel Morrison, was identified early on at United as a player with all the natural talent to make it to the top.
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He was justified in deciding to leave having watched Park ji-Sung and Rafael toil in central midfield in a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn and his career went from strength to strength in Serie A with Juventus.
Yet, in the four years was Pogba away was winning four Serie As and making the 2015 Champions League final, Lingard was toiling away at United, forced to remain hungry and patient, trusting that he would come good and step off the carousel of loans – Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Derby – to become a regular for club and country.
It took until 2015/16, the year before Pogba returned to United as the most expensive player in the world, for Lingard to break into the team at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal, adding pace and vigour to a pedestrian team and scoring the winner in the FA Cup final.
Now valued at £31.5m by Transfermarkt, when England manager Gareth Southgate decides which key players should be rested for his side’s final Group G game against Belgium, Lingard should be viewed just as important as anyone, bar Harry Kane.
By contrast, Pogba has come into his second World Cup on the back of yet another season of constant debate over his best position and his worth to Jose Mourinho’s United side and underperformed for a disappointing France side.
A recent poll saw 73% of Les Bleus fans call for Pogba to be dropped. He has become a genuine global superstar, under intense scrutiny but he is failing to embrace that pressure on the pitch.
Lingard takes the joy he shows off the pitch onto the field as well and looks to be enjoying this World Cup as much as anyone, which could lead to further rewards upon his return to club football at United.
Pogba’s favoured position is on the left of a three-man midfield, and that is the exact role that Lingard switched to and shone in as England swept aside Panama 6-1, scoring the pick of the bunch with a curling first-half strike.
It helps Lingard that England’s 3-1-4-2 is more flowing than United’s 4-3-3, but his mini-reinvention poses an interesting tactical dilemma for Mourinho.
Lingard is playing in Pogba’s favourite position and playing better than him in it. The Englishman could not be putting forward a stronger claim to take his good friend’s starting spot at Old Trafford.
Mourinho reportedly wants warriors, who have the personality to fight for everything, and judging Lingard and Pogba on that metric, there is only going to be one winner.