“If you look at the highlights, you’d think he was one of our best players. But have you watched the whole 90 minutes?”
This was Marcel Desailly’s analysis of Hatem Ben Arfa’s career for France in May, but one would be forgiven for thinking that the French legend was referring to Paul Pogba.
In fact, a “highlights player” is a very apt description of Pogba’s career so far.
Pogba has been the subject of intense transfer speculation, and it’s not outside the realms of possibility that Manchester United will smash the world transfer fee record to bring the Juventes midfielder to Old Trafford.
£100 million is the figure being quoted in the media for a player who Alex Ferguson let walk free for nothing, and Real Madrid are also heavily linked with a move for the 23 year old.
But is Pogba worth all the fuss? Despite all the talk of a world record fee, Pogba is far from the world’s best player. In fact, he isn’t even France’s best player.
Pogba’s performances at Euro 2016 were underwhelming to put it mildly, despite his country making it to the final.
Sure, there was the powerful header against Iceland, and the dazzling feet for Anthony Griezmann’s second goal against Germany, but there was very little else.
Pogba continually failed to dominate games throughout the tournament, and he was anonymous in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the final.
Instead, it was Moussa Sissoko (who has just been relegated to the Championship with Newcastle) who took the game to Portugal, providing driving runs, neat one twos and a tireless work rate from midfield. Blaise Matuidi was similarly impressive on the night, but Pogba failed to produce any moments of quality during the 120 minutes played at the Stade de France.
Fellow French compatriot Emmanuel Petit was scathing in his criticism of the former Man United player;
“They say 100m…it is a waste of money for me. We are making him out to be a big star, but he is not a big star to me.”
In Pogba’s defence, he wasn’t the only high-profile player to underperform at Euro 2016. Highly anticipated players such as Lewandowski, Muller, Kane, and Alli failed to produce in France, so Pogba cannot be branded a failure on the tournament alone.
However, when midfielders such as Joe Allen and Jeff Hendrick excelled, it’s not unreasonable to expect a whole lot more from Pogba.
It is easy at times to forget that the imposing midfielder is only 23, and he should only get better. He will learn a lot from the tournament, and a move to Madrid or Manchester could see him eventually justify all the hype around him.
There’s no doubt that he would improve the Manchester United midfield in particular.
It is unfortunate that transfer fees have become so ridiculous in modern football, and Pogba will be forced to carry the burden of his outrageous price tag wherever he goes. It is almost inconceivable that £100m could be spent on a player who has yet to produce world class performances on a consistent basis.
There is the possibility that Pogba will prove his doubters wrong and become one of the best midfielders in the world, but for now, the jury is very much out.