Paul Pogba’s transfer to Juventus was anything but simple. The French Under 20 international midfielder moved to the Juventus from Manchester United this summer, much to the annoyance of Sir Alex Ferguson. Pogba, who had only been with United for three years, helped to engineer the move after refusing to sign a new contract and stating publicly that he was unhappy at his lack of playing time at the Manchester club. Whilst the transfer was confirmed on the 27th July 2012, Ferguson claims that the deal had been done for a while and Pogba, plus his agent had worked behind the scenes to arrange the switch, whilst spinning United’s management lies after lies about the player getting ready to commit long-term to the club.
Regardless of what happened or how the move came about, Pogba now dons the black and white jersey of Juventus and has started this season well, with the 19-year-old playing 13 times so far for Antonio Conte’s team. Often used as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo as a creative midfielder, Pogba has managed not only to gain considerable playing time but has impressed both coaching staff and the media with some of his performances. Back in October, Pogba put in a match winning performance at home to Bologna, setting up the first goal for Fabio Quagliarella before scoring himself in the 2-1 victory. His performance that day saw his gain praise from Juventus assistant manager Angelo Alessio whilst at the same time also some words of warning for the future:
“Pogba did very well with the goal and he played a great game but he still needs to improve. He played an excellent game in the opening 20 minutes then became a little lazy and that is unacceptable. There are small criticisms. He must simply remain solid and effective and know Antonio Conte’s style which means he must stop attempting overly dramatic flicks.”
Since then, Pogba has worked hard to improve his focus and is determined to prove to Alessio and Conte that he can be the player they want him to be. And he is starting to show this now after a fantastic performance on Saturday against Udinese, where he helped Juventus extend their lead at the top of Serie A with a brace in their 4-0 win. He got the ball rolling with superb strike four minutes before the end of the first half. Picking up the ball in the middle of the park from Leonardo Bonucci, Pogba cleverly switched the play to the right flank into the path of Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner. The right back angled his header towards striker Marko Vucinic, only for Udinese defender Allan to head the ball away from goal into the middle of the pitch and right into the path of a waiting Pogba. With one touch to control and set himself up, Pogba unleashed a 35 yard screamer that swerved and dipped its way past the diving Udinese goalkeeper Daniele Padelli to put Juventus a goal ahead going into half time. In the second half Pogba added another long-range goal plus helped in the build up of Juventus 3rd and 4th goals to wrap up a fantastic performance from the young Frenchman.
His display lead his manager Antonio Conte to draw comparisons between Pogba and former Holland and AC Milan midfield legend, Frank Rijkaard, who Conte believes Pogba has the ability to replicate, if he continues to improve:
“They (Pogba and Rijkaard) do have similar characteristics, but Paul needs to grow up to become one of the best players in the world in his role”
Udinese manager echoed the praise given by Conte to Pogba after the match by also adding his own views on the player:
“Pogba is a great player and not just for his goals. I have to say we’re dealing with a real prospect for the future.”
Praise indeed for a player that is likely to improve over time and continue to grow as a player, much to the frustration of Sir Alex. The United coach, who is facing up to the remainder of the season with a lack of central midfielders, after Darren Fletcher was ruled out following a reoccurrence of his irritated bowel condition, would love to have been able to turn to a player like Pogba at this time. But the player has moved on and is starting afresh in Italy with Juventus, with Conte able to reap the benefits now of his talents. At only 19 years old, there is sure to be a lot more to come from this talented youngster both at club and international level. Whether he can emulate the great Frank Rijkaard, only time will tell.
To see Paul Pogba’s strike, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp3q2SNufww