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17th Mar 2017

Owen Hargreaves got a few things wrong with his analysis of Paul Pogba

"To call him a problem is beyond ridiculous"

Robert Redmond

Paul Pogba’s performances have dipped and he has come in for a lot of criticism.

In recent weeks, the Manchester United midfielder has noticeably struggled against Bournemouth, Southampton, FC Rostov and Chelsea.

On Thursday night, Pogba’s patchy form continued in the second-leg of United’s Europa League tie against Rostov.

Jose Mourinho’s side won 1-0, Pogba was substituted just after half-time, and now faces three weeks out of the team with a hamstring injury.

It could be argued that a few weeks out of the team will benefit the 24-year-old, who has played every game he has been available for this season, and only substituted once before Thursday night.

He’s clearly out of form, and has been trying to force things instead of playing his natural game.

Before the victory over Rostov, Owen Hargreaves offered a defence of Pogba. The general sentiment of Hargreaves’ view – that the 24-year-old has the talent to become a top player – was correct.

However, it could be argued that he got a lot wrong.

“I think he’s played well but people are judging him on his price tag,” the former Manchester United and Manchester City midfielder said on BT Sport’s coverage of the game.

“People are judging the price tag, people are judging the haircuts and all these other flash things they see.”

People aren’t judging Pogba on his haircut, they’re judging him on this:

And this:

And this…

Pogba could do whatever he wanted with his hair if he was playing well. He could be as flash if he wanted if he closed down N’Golo Kante and stopped him scoring.

The fact he’s the most expensive player in the world wouldn’t be spoken about as much if he was playing well. No one ever mentions Cristiano Ronaldo’s price tag, or Gareth Bale’s or Luis Suarez’s or Neymar’s.

People wouldn’t mention Pogba’s transfer fee if he was anywhere near as good as those players. Maybe one day he will be, but he’s miles away at the moment.

Jose Mourinho brought up how much Pogba is paid to distract people from the fact he’s not playing well. To follow that line of thought is to miss the point completely, which is what the United manager wants.

Pogba isn’t playing well. If he was, the price tag wouldn’t be an issue.

“One of his biggest problems is he’s too good at everything, he’s not a master at anything just yet,” Hargreaves continued.

While Pogba is very talented, there’s no such thing as being “too good at everything”. Pogba does has a range of talents, but how can you be too good at everything? That really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

He needs to harness his talents, which requires a level of discipline that he doesn’t seem to have. Not yet, at least.

Hargreaves also said that Pogba is capable of getting 15 goals and 15 assists a season, and any of the top European clubs would want him in their team.

“To call him a problem is beyond ridiculous,” he said.

“At Real Madrid, [Zinedine] Zidane would love to have him. Barcelona would love to have him in the midfield. [Antonio] Conte would love to have him at Chelsea, Pep Guardiola would love to have him.”

If Real Madrid really wanted Pogba, they would have made a move for him last summer.

Pogba arguably doesn’t have the technique to play in Barcelona’s midfield, and Lionel Messi wouldn’t be happy waiting on Pogba to get the ball out of his feet to pass it to him.

Conte would like Pogba at Chelsea, as he worked with him at Juventus. But would he swap him for Kante? Unlikely.

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