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Paul Pogba can’t be happy at Manchester United sitting on the sidelines – that doesn’t mean he does not have to perform

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been in limbo recently, being dropped for big matches and then not performing when he has played. Currently on international duty with France, the 25-year-old is still subject to a log of column inches in the press. The speculation of a bust-up with Jose Mourinho and the fact his transfer fee was costly are still things you will read about and hear about – probably for the remainder of the season. It seems that Manchester United grabs the attention of everyone, the media using that to gain attention – seemingly covering everything.

During the next ten days or so, France will face Colombia and Russia in friendly matches in order for the squad to get ready for the FIFA World Cup this summer. Pogba was called up to the France squad, with teammate Anthony Martial, both of whom missed the training session today due to injury. Pogba participated in Monday’s training session and suffered an injury there whilst Martial was carrying a niggle from the last match he played for United.

French coach, Didier Deschamps has spoken about the midfielder and the fact he will not be happy that he out in effect out of contention at United currently. Pogba was on the bench on Saturday when United knocked Brighton and Hove Albion out of the Emirates FA Cup, winning 2-0 with goals scored by Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic. Pogba was unused during the match, not actually playing since the club were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League last week at the hands of Spanish side Sevilla. Deschamps, reported by the BBC, said:

“I’m sure I’ll hear more about it. But of course, it’s a situation he won’t be enjoying. I don’t know why that is. As to why or how things came to this, there may be many reasons. I have a great deal of talks with players at our training camps, to gauge their feelings. It’s not just Paul.”

Pogba was not in the best of form last season but he managed to make 51 appearances (49 starts, 2 substitute appearances) for United, scoring nine goals in all competitions, assisting six further goals. Pogba was criticised for not living up to his £89 million price tag, which allowed it to be talked about for months – whereas when other teams spend massive fees on players, there does not seem to be much of a big deal being made – Virgin van Dijk to Liverpool for instance.

This season, Pogba has spent time on the sidelines through injury and suspension, making 28 appearances so far this season (25 starts and three substitute appearances). Pogba has scored just three goals this season, all in the Premier League, assisting ten goals in total, nine of which were in the Premier League. Recently, Pogba seemed uninterested in playing for his team, jogging when he could have been running and not putting his all in, which seems to be prevalent across the board at the club this season. To earn his place, Pogba will need to try much harder.

Pogba is a great talent and despite turning 25 last week, he still has a long way to go in terms of development. Many have speculated that Pogba will be leaving the club this summer after reports of a bust-up with Mourinho not actually going away, plus the lack of form the Frenchman has shown. Then come the quotes from the Frenchman about wanting to play on the same team as Neymar – which will probably start speculation linking the Frenchman to Paris Saint-Germain, or linking Neymar to United, or linking the pair to Real Madrid. Speaking to TyC Sports, Pogba said:

“I like him. He has the definition of happiness on the pitch. In Brazil, football is everything, it’s life in Brazil. Everyone plays football. I love to see him on the pitch playing, with his technique and his ability. It’s a different style. When you say the word ‘Neymar’ around the world, everyone knows who he is and what he does. Therefore if I could play with him one day, it would be a pleasure.”

Pogba, also talking about the footballers he looked up to when he was younger, spoke about Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, also talking about having videos of Diego Maradona, Pele, Chris Waddle, and Kaka – also looked up to other modern-day players such as Manchester City attacking midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne. Pogba said:

“When I was smaller I always looked up to Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. I had videos of Maradona, Pele, Chris Waddle, Kaka – many players. I wanted to have all the virtues of those players. Now I look more at players like Andres Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne and Luke Modric – who is a very strong midfielder player. I look at them to try to be better.”

It could be a long time before we see the greatness of Paul Pogba, but hopefully after the international break, with United facing Swansea City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday 31st March 2018, he will have a bit of form which may see him being chosen by Jose Mourinho. United have eight Premier League matches remaining this season and still need to put in some effort to ensure a second-place finish, also a further match in the Emirates FA Cup, against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley late next month.

United’s season is not yet over, the fans still expect performances from the players and some will be playing for their future. I don’t think United will sell Pogba this summer, but it does not mean he is guaranteed to get into the side just because of the money spent on bringing him back to the Theatre of Dreams. He will need to work just as hard, if not harder, than every player in the squad. Some of them are not working hard at all, which has resulted in criticism – which has been suggested is actually bullying in the workplace, in the case of Luke Shaw.

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