Is Paul Pogba Overrated?
The majority of Manchester United fans may have already made up their own minds but does Paul Pogba really deserve all of the criticism that is levelled at him? The French international is currently with the national team in a tournament where he has excelled in the past, but the 25-year-old will soon be back under the spotlight at Old Trafford.
It’s been a difficult two years for Pogba, who returned to United for a second spell in 2016, but can he win over his detractors and ever justify his club record transfer fee?
World Cup Relief
Back in 2014 in Brazil, Paul Pogba won the tournament’s Best Young Player award as his French side reached the World Cup quarterfinals. Along the way, the midfielder scored the winner in the round-of-16 tie against Nigeria and Pogba also started Russia 2018 in positive fashion, having been initially awarded France’s second in their opening match against Australia.
That decision was eventually overturned and marked as an own goal for the unfortunate Aziz Behich but whoever scored it, a vital three points were secured. France went into their match with Peru carrying a price of 8/13 at William Hill, but if they are to justify those short odds, it’s likely that Paul Pogba will have another significant part to play.
Pogba also enjoyed a productive Euro 2016 but his international performances are seen as being in stark contrast to his contributions at club level. Since he came back to Old Trafford at the start of the 2016/17 season, soccer pundits have been queueing up to have their say and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has been particularly harsh, even going on to criticise the player’s choice of hairstyle at one stage.
But are his displays in a United shirt really that bad? If we look beyond the war of words, the statistics are actually quite encouraging. Pogba scored six goals in 37 matches across all competitions in 2017/18 but scoring isn’t his key role. That tally maintains his career strike which stands at around one in six and that’s not likely to change significantly through the years.
The most impressive stats concern his ability to bring others into play. Paul Pogba provided ten assists in 2017/18, a total that put him equal fifth on the Premier League list, along with Riyad Mahrez, Mohamed Salah and the Spurs pair of Christian Eriksen and Dele Ali. Meanwhile, the French international provided 15 through balls, putting him equal twelfth on the list. Critics would say that he should be higher up those rankings but those aren’t the figures of a man who deserves to attract so much flak.
Focus on Football
Gary Neville has said that Paul Pogba doesn’t help himself by attracting so much attention. Anyone wanting to search for Pogba related news at the start of the World Cup will initially find headlines about his hairdresser as opposed to his performances on the pitch so perhaps there is a valid point here.
But, in terms of pure statistics, the player is performing well and hopefully, those positive efforts in a Manchester United shirt will start to be recognised from 2018/19 onwards