OPINION: Is Pogba getting off too lightly?

Manchester United midfielder has yet to convince fully

BY Rob Fanning 18:33 Wednesday 8 March 2017, 18:33 8 Mar 2017

Manchester United’s manager José Mourinho, right, with Manchester United’s Paul Pogba just prior to the start of Europa League group A soccer match between Manchester United and Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

On 8 August 2016, Pogba returned to former club, Manchester United, on a five-year contract for an all-time record transfer fee of €105 million (£89.3 million) plus bonuses of €5 million, surpassing the former record holder Gareth Bale.

When you are the most expensive player in the world, inevitably there comes this added pressure that you have to perform well consistently. So far, this has not been a season he will remember in a hurry. He has played 25 games in the premier league managing just four goals and three assists, none of which have come against top six opposition. 

The French international will turn 24 next week and although he is still young, paying a fee of that magnitude you would expect to see results straight away. 

In recent years the top Premier League sides have splashed out money on players like Suarez, Hazard, De Bruyne and Sanchez. These are examples of expensive signings (although most of them were less than half the price of Pogba) who hit the ground running and made an impact immediately. 

Former England internationals Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher spoke about the matter on Monday Night Football. 

Lampard went on to say that, "I feel a little bit like he has fallen in between everything. When you pay £90m you want to see results, and he hasn't quite delivered. He's young and he possibly will do, but as it stands he hasn't been a game-changer.We need to give him time. We need to flip forward to next season and see if he's improving his game. But at some stage he has to be that dominant midfield player because I do believe that's in him. The problem for me is that if you spend £90m, you don't want a £90m problem."

Carragher had a similar view towards the french man saying "He's still nowhere near good enough or disciplined enough to play in that central midfield role.He's a liability defensively, there's no doubt about that. They should have lost the EFL Cup final. Against one of the top sides I think they would have lost that game and Pogba was one of the reasons why."

The issue for Manchester United is that when a club pays that much money for a player it becomes very difficult to exclude him in matches because of his astonishing price tag. If Pogba cost United £20m, do you think Mourinho would have dropped him by now? 

Take a look at Bastian Schweinsteiger, a player who has won eight German titles, a Champions League with Bayern Munich and a World Cup. His achievements and experience speak for themselves. He was bought by United two summers ago for a fee of £9m. Could he be a player that Mourinho should put more trust in? Or because his price tag is relatively low, does he not merit getting the same opportunities that Paul Pogba has gotten?

I'm under no illusion that football has become crazy with the money that is being spent on players, but surely that sort of £90m fee could buy you a world class player that has already definitively proven himself on the biggest stage. I understand that Pogba is young, turning 24 next week. However, I still feel that is a weak excuse when you are the world's most expensive player.

The professional game is more competitive now than it ever has been. Clubs like Manchester United demand success immediately. Take a look at Claudio Ranieri at Leicester. He defied odds of 5000/1 to bring his side to Premier League glory. There is no doubt about it, Leicester have struggled this season, but the way in which he got sacked shows you how ruthless sport at that elite level can be. 

It will be very interesting to see how long Mourinho keeps his fate in Pogba. Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay are two prime examples of players that joined United for large fees (£60m and £25m). Things didn't work out for either player and they both left the Red Devils a year after joining (Depay stayed for slightly longer). My gut feeling is that Pogba will not be leaving next season but it is important to note that if you are under performing at a club as big as United, you are not guaranteed your place, even if you are the most expensive player in the world!

United still have 12 Premier League games left this season. They face Rostov tomorrow night in their Europa League last 16 encounter and they are away to Chelsea on March 13th in the quarter final of the FA Cup.

Pogba still has plenty of time to prove himself, but so far he has not lived up to his price tag.


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