David Moyes’ short tenure at Manchester United has been dominated by the new manager’s inability to bring in a top-class central midfielder with the creativity and energy to give his adopted side a shot in the arm. Efforts to sign Cesc Fàbregas and Thiago Alcantara have been fruitless, while the Premier League champions have been linked with the likes of Luka Modrić also in the search to find Paul Scholes’ long-term replacement.
United look to have turned their attention to Everton’s Marouane Fellaini – a player that can play in midfield as an enforcer, but lacks the deft touches that the Old Trafford club crave. One man with all the abilities to act as a fitting deputy to Scholes left the club last summer, and proved as much in the 2012-13 season for Serie A giants Juventus.
Paul Pogba’s name was one that was synonymous with discussions over the future of United and its midfield. Youtube clips of the talented young Frenchman scoring spectacular goals in the Old Trafford club’s reserve and youth sides became commonplace on Red Devils supporters’ forums and the hype surrounding the promise that Pogba offered was awe-inspiring.
Unfortunately for United, the now 20-year-old is starting to live up to his bumper billing, and the Premier League champions let him slip through their fingers this time last year. With first-team appearances few and far between at Old Trafford, Pogba made the brave decision of rejecting a new contract from the Manchester giants to move to Turin and fight for a starting jersey with the Bianconeri.
With international team-mates to contend with for a place in the Juve line-up such as Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal, many expected that it would be a learning debut season for Pogba, with few first-team opportunities in the offing.
However, Pogba’s ability and potential has been noticed by Antonio Conte, who gave the youngster 27 Serie A appearances last season, with 18 in the starting line-up. Pogba’s return of five goals is a solid return for a midfielder, but the thing that caught the eye was his maturity and ability.
United have an excellent deep-lying playmaker in the form of Michael Carrick, whose range of passing and ability to start attacks from deep by freeing up attacking players is a key part of the side’s play.
However, the England international lacks mobility and as such needs an energetic, box-to-box man beside him to get forward and add urgency to the midfield. Scholes certainly had this, as does Fàbregas. Pogba showed last season in Italy that he has the potential to be just as good as both of those players, and has the favourable attributes that United have been desperate to secure in this summer’s transfer market.
Pogba has recently been linked with a move to Arsenal in the English and Italian press, but Juve general manager Beppe Marotta was quick to set the record straight and state that the youngster is not for sale.
Juve know the calibre of the player that they have at their disposal and as it stands Pogba will continue to play an important role in the side’s quest for silverware. As the Frenchman’s influence and exposure in Italy increases, United will be kicking themselves that he is not on their books for this season.