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Paul Pogba: the key to Manchester United’s success?

A lot of attention has been recently placed on Manchester United’s record signing Paul Pogba, there is no doubt that solely positive things are being said about the Frenchman, who certainly deserves all the plaudits he is presently receiving.

After Manchester United’s satisfactory performance against Stoke on Monday evening, Pogba was fundamental in United’s win and was the catalyst of almost everything good that United produced.  Although the performance unsurprisingly received some criticisms due to the missed opportunities from Stoke, it can’t be overlooked by the performance of Pogba and his team. His MOTM performance against the Potters and his performances since his return from injury have made people sit up and take notice, praising the youngster for his work.

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With Manchester City 12 points clear in the title race, United’s chances of winning the title are looking increasingly improbable. Yet, in a World Cup year and with United still being represented in the FA Cup as well as the Champions League, there is no better time for the midfielder to be showing form.

Pogba’s transfer fee in 2016 was deemed ludicrous by many. Yet, sitting at almost £90million, he is now the fourth most expensive football player in pounds (£) after Neymar, Coutinho and Dembele have overtaken him in recent windows. Although, still the most expensive player currently displaying his trade in the Premier League, he is consistently showing exceptional talent and in todays laughable transfer market, it could be considered as a valuable piece of business.

Significantly, Manchester United have not lost a Premier League football match in 35 Premier League matches when Pogba has been a part of the match day squad, the last loss in which Pogba performed was back in October 2016 against Chelsea. The 24 year old picked up an injury against Basel in a 3-0 win back in September.

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This campaign, despite missing seven games due to injury and three games due to a sending off against Arsenal, the creative midfielder has notched up three goals and nine assists. Therefore these statistics are only spanning over 13 Premier League games. With nine assists to his name, this is the same as Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane. This total notably took Pogba 10 games less then De Bruyne and eight less than the German. In fact, until last night, the stat placed Pogba at the top of the European assist chart in terms of assists-to-games. Neymar is the only player above him with 11 assists, this is an unbelievable stat and if he continues and avoids injury he will certainly continue to be recognised and sustain these statistics.

After his MOTM performance against Stoke, he made the difficult look easy. The beauty of the Frenchman is that Mourinho has allowed him to roam and be free. Mourinho stated on MUTV that ‘He (Pogba) was moving the ball fantastically well, with long passes changing the direction and creating problems for the opponent’, it is clearly not just pundits and fans impressed with the ex-Juventus player and I’m sure will continue to gain his managers praise.

This allows Pogba to show his defensive and attacking abilities as well as his vision and passing range. He picked up two assists against Stoke by finding himself in good positions and automatically knowing where his team mates were. His vision is special and there are not that many players in the league with a better ability to use the whole pitch at their peril than the midfielder. This ability alongside his impressive displays may be a result of summer transfer, Nemanja Matic. The signature of Matic has clearly allowed Pogba to advance forward and pick up the ball and show his competence on the ball. The two are developing a significant partnership in the centre of the park and their relationship will be important to the second half of the season.

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What is most impressive is the Frenchman’s ability to defend too, there were many occasions against Stoke and in recent game weeks where he has been one of the last men in defence and has picked up the ball and controlled the game. His strength is another characteristic which puts him in a special position. Although only 24 he has a very strong physical structure and has the ability to brush players off him and come away with the ball, at his age and position there are few players capable of making it look so easy.

He has confidence and an arrogance on the pitch and he will only continue to grow under Mourinho and United. He is certainly a delight to watch currently and his potential is significant. A sure PFA Players’ Player of the Year winner in years to come.

Written by Eamon Kitching.

Eamon Kitching

21. Loughborough University Student developing my writing skills with 90MAAT. Leicester City fan still holding onto our 15/16 Premier League success.

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