The most overrated player in the world. These are words that have been ascribed to Paul Pogba, following any performance that is perceived as average or ‘below his standards’.
His standards however don’t seem to be as apparent to anyone as can be.
The question of what his best position is remains a source of tactical debate, as no one can exactly stipulate what is expected of him.
Frank Lampard was particularly critical recently, Claiming Pogba was “both too attacking and too defensive”. He however chose to indulge in the most cliché sort of criticism that has come to characterize the modern football fandom, “The problem he has is that when we think of £90m we think of Gareth Bale”.
|Lampard was particularly critical recently, claiming Pogba was “both too attacking and too defensive|
Clearly, the most apparent reason he would always face the scrutiny of modern day football fandom, laced with so many outrageous expectations, is the little sin of being the most expensive player in the history of the game.
He went further in highlighting another epitome of what the level of expectations placed on modern footballers are like. “Who would you pay £90m or £100m for? Suarez, Ronaldo, Messi… They bring 40 to 50 goals a season and win games on their own week-in, week-out”.
Probably not a buccaneering box to box machine with great 2 way skills like the new toast of praise from pundits and fans alike, Ngolo Kante. Is he a 20-goal midfielder in the ilk of Frank Lampard? No.
|Kante completely dominated and bossed Pogba in last night's FA Cup tie|
Put simply, he is expected to be what he’s not especially considering that he’s currently playing as part of the pivot in a 4-2-3-1, a role and system relatively new to him and one he’s probably not suited to.
Indeed, Pogba has himself revealed his preference for a more advanced position in midfield, "I would say midfielder on the left. If you play a three I can play on the right of left, but I feel more comfortable to play on my left," Pogba told Sky Sports when asked what his best position is. "I can do it [holding midfielder], but I feel more comfortable a bit higher".
Yes, some attempt to go against the grain and claim he doesn’t need to score goals, but should dominate games and have a direct impact on results, especially in the bigger games.
In truth, he has yet to stamp his authority on games involving the best in the English game, but one can’t shake off the feeling that if he had registered more than his 4 goals in all competitions, only good for less than half of Sergio Ramos’ returns, that monkey would probably be taken off his back.
In a modern world ruled by technology, with data becoming more readily available, footballers are now increasingly judged based on numbers, be it stats or fees that were parted with to secure their services.
Has Pogba justified the hype around his return to Manchester United? Of course, he hasn’t. But the question of if he has justified his transfer fee is more difficult and probably impossible to answer as no one is worth the crazy amounts of money involved in modern football.
Pogba should not be worth that much, that is true, but no one really is. However, that Manchester United were willing to part with that much to price him away from Juventus should be no one’s problem but theirs.
His price tag should not be a beacon in judging or indulging in unhealthy comparisons with other players procured for relative peanuts, but should shed more light on the travails of modern football that has increasingly become more of a business show than an entertainment spectacle.
There’s room for improvements, and the occasional flashes of brilliance need to be seen more consistently, but at just 23, playing out of position and with no pre-season of note in the summer, he can only improve from here. Surely, he deserves some slack.
This is an opinion piece written by @Officially_Seyi