Graeme Souness believes he knows the exact moment when Paul Pogba’s Manchester United career took a turn before he left on a free contract in 2022.
Paul Pogba was a prominent figure at Manchester United, having joined the club in 2016 from Juventus for a then-world record £89 million fee. His time at the club was marked by a mix of performances, controversies, and glimpses of his all-time talent.
Pogba delivered standout performances, showcasing his ability to control the game, contribute goals, and provide key assists. His versatility allowed him to influence both defensive and offensive aspects of play. Notably, he played a crucial role in helping Jose Mourinho win the Europa League and then-EFL Cup in 2016/17.
However, his tenure at Old Trafford was marred by inconsistency, injuries, and occasional controversies. Criticism was directed at Pogba for fluctuations in form and questions regarding his commitment to the team.
One of those who was particularly critical of Pogba during his time in the Premier League was former Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, who believes that Pogba winning the World Cup in 2018 was the moment when his career started to decline.
“Why I was critical of him? He had the equipment to be the best midfield player in the world. And I saw a young man who was going through the motions a lot of the time, and that frustrated me,” he said on a recent talkSPORT appearance.
“With that physique, with the technical ability, he just didn’t have the right attitude to the game.
“The worst thing that happened to him? Winning a World Cup, where he could turn and say, ‘I’m a World Cup winner’. I think, at that point, it was him going backwards. He just didn’t work hard enough, which obviously comes from your mental state as well. But that’s what Mourinho had. He’d called him a virus or something.
“What I saw? Someone had stopped listening. ‘I’m a World Cup winner, what can you tell me?’ And I think he just tossed it off. I’ve said this to Mourinho. I said, ‘Do you wish you’d kept Ibrahimović?’ He (Ibrahimović) was doing an interview for Sky (after winning the EFL Cup), and then Pogba came in and was making (referring to making a fuss).
“He (Ibrahimović) dismissed him like a little boy, and Pogba left the room with his tail between his legs. And that’s what you need in the dressing room. You know, someone that will point a finger and put the would-be superstars in their place. He wasn’t a top player.”
Despite this, his impact on the pitch during his time at the club cannot be denied, and he remains a key figure in Manchester United’s midfield when fully fit. His tenure at United was a complex narrative, characterised by moments of brilliance and an equal amount of criticism.
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