This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Despite the transfer window closing in the Premier League last Thursday, there remains a possibility Paul Pogba could still leave Manchester United. The Frenchman has been courted by the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus all summer, and with the deadline in other major European leagues still some time away, there are no guarantees the 26-year-old will stay at Old Trafford.
On Sunday afternoon though, with the world watching the Red Devils’ highly-anticipated clash against top-six rivals Chelsea, Pogba came to the fore.
The France World Cup winner appeared to put the speculation to one side and helped run the show for United in the middle of the park. The performance wasn’t without its occasional faults, but there was no doubting the former Juventus star appeared to embrace just being back on the pitch.
Sitting alongside Scott McTominay in a deeper-lying midfield two, Pogba was the architect behind many of United’s thrilling counter-attacks. The forwards rather understandably took all the limelight with their scintillating pace, but it was the Red Devils’ maverick star who kick-started moves with his powerful running and intelligent passing.
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His two assists were so remarkably different that they highlighted the very diverse talents Pogba has to offer. His sumptuous pass over the top for Marcus Rashford to latch on to and fire home was a thing of beauty. His role in the side’s fourth goal was equally brilliant, but this time it was his marauding run forward and weighted through ball to Daniel James that caught the eye.
In total, the Frenchman made four key passes as United dominated proceedings in the second-half. His 77.4% pass accuracy was nothing to write home about, and he was sometimes caught in possession as Chelsea looked to press the ball, but it was his willingness to receive the ball in dangerous areas and try more difficult things to help his team that resulted in him losing out on occasion.
Losing a midfielder like Pogba in the remaining weeks of the window would rob United of someone who has shown he can be more than a lynch-pin. His range of passing, driving runs and ability to cover the ground easily marks him out as a unique option in the Red Devils’ squad. Make no mistake about it, the 26-year-old’s display against Chelsea showed exactly what Solskjaer’s side could miss out on, were he to leave.