Paul Pogba is one of the best midfielders on the planet, without a doubt. The issue is, we only really see that every 2 years, and in short bursts for Manchester United. It’s frustrating, but it’s not as much of an oddity as people will have you believe. There are many factors that play into this, all of which I hope to touch on throughout this article.
Paul Pogba and His Role for France
When Pogba plays for his national team, he plays in a midfield 3 with Kante and Rabiot, usually. This suits Pogba. Both Rabiot and Kante are mobile, and also very tactically aware players. Both can fit into a few systems, and they operate in almost the same way every game. This means every player in the midfield has a role, and they balance off of each other. Kante’s running and ability to win the ball back, Rabiot is another one that covers a considerable distance over 90 and plays well in both directions.
Pogba, his role is to play as a sort of half-pivot. He’s showing the doubters who criticized his defensive capabilities that he in fact isn’t a luxury player, he just needs to be used correctly. Pogba will work back defensively if it’s part of his role in the team. He can also be very good at it, as with the mobility in the France midfield, Pogba is often left with additional space.
This is due to the threat of Mbappe, and Benzema also dropping deeper at times, it causes the opposition midfield to either pull wider, slot into defence to cover Mbappe stretching the game or to pick up Benzema. Pogba in these situations has a knack of finding himself in pockets of space, either deep or further forward. This time and space, either the defensive third or attacking third give Paul Pogba more options to pick out progressive passes.
Along with his role, you also need to consider that France is the leading favourites for the tournament. While international football is a lottery, Pogba playing well is about as certain as a gambling man that uses Platincasino Live.
Pace of International Football
The pace of the Premier League can be intense. It’s hectic, sometimes scrappy and very physical. International football is more cagey. Teams will take more time to set up chances without wanting to expose themself to counterattacks. Again, this also suits Pogba. He has plenty of time and space, and also the calibre of players to make the runs and receive the balls played in by the Frenchman. United do have quality in the wide area’s and offensively, however, Bruno Fernandes being the mainstay of the team takes a lot away from Pogba. Any system United plays with Bruno either requires Pogba to be used in a sole defensive playmaker role, or an advanced midfielder alongside Bruno.
A couple of astute midfield signings can add mobility and more tactically astute players next to him. Also playing in a settled system, where everyone knows the role. This isn’t the same with United, it’s something Pogba has impressed with at Juve and France, something United need to be taking notice of. It isn’t a fluke that he can’t perform as well for United, they need to start using him in a system more tailored to their strengths.
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