Paul Pogba is one of those players that seems to be linked with the top clubs at every transfer window, but stays where he is.
Certainly at Juventus Pogba is enjoying domestic success having just won another Serie A title, but the European success that every player at his level craves just seems to elude him, and this time the midfielder may opt to depart Turin.
Manchester United are supposedly ready to break their transfer record for the player they released on a free transfer in 2012, and are among only an elite band able to offer money needed for him now after his meteoric rise.
At Juve, Massimiliano Allegri made no secret of his desire to recruit a new No.10 for Juventus after Carlos Tevez left the club. Pogba wasn’t the natural choice, but he had requested the No.10 shirt and so they gave him a chance. On the surface, he might have seemed a natural fit having already scored more goals than the average midfielder with 15 in his previous two Serie A campaigns. He had provided ample evidence of his abilities, too, but the position appeared to weigh him down and he seemed out of sorts for a while as the manager tried to work out where Pogba fitted in his formation.
While Allegri re-jigged his team, it seemed as though Pogba was being made to fit a particular idea, rather than idea being built around such talents. When questioned about his preferred role, he simply said: “I just like to play.”
Allegri quickly concluded he did not like Pogba behind the attack and drew him back into midfield, abandoning the use of a No.10 altogether and reverting to the 3-5-2 he had inherited when he first took the Juventus job after Antonio Conte. Since then, the system has changed again and the 23-year-old appears more comfortable, as Allegri now alternates between a 4-3-3 and a 4-3-1-2 formation.
In either set-up, Pogba’s role is clearly defined. Playing on the left of the midfield trio, he serves as what is known in Italy as a “mezz’ala” — literally, a “half-wing”. His task is no longer to roam all over the pitch, but instead work in tandem with the full-back to dominate his flank, dropping back when required and marauding forward when the opportunity presents. It is a position that makes the most of his talents.
And the rest of Europe has awoken to the possibilities of such ability within their own teams and that’s why £60m is being touted as a fee from which to start the almost inevitable bidding war.
Pogba is a complete player. His statistics for passes, dribbling, tackling and so on are remarkable and compare with anyone in Europe today. Therefore, it is no huge surprise that he is such a wanted man by the elite clubs.
Manchester United may baulk at the fact that they will now have to pay many millions to buy a player that was let go for free a few years ago, but at least he would be better than the current crop of midfielders.
In fact, Pogba would be ideal for any club, as the box-to-box midfielder will provide an all round contribution to his team matched with ambition and will to succeed.
No doubt we’ll see much more of him this summer and watch the valuation soar.