When Manchester United signed Paul Pogba for £89 million back in 2016, it not only broke the transfer record at the time, but put a proverbial noose around the Frenchman’s neck. Unfortunately for the Old Trafford faithful, that noose appeared to strangle the life out of the young player as his time on the pitch was lacklustre to say the least. With just five goals in 30 Premier League appearance in 2016/2017, it’s fair to say Pogba didn’t look anything like a world record signing.
However, at least for the time being, the haters are slowly starting to chew on their words. Two goals in his first four Premier League games for United this season has not only given the man himself a boost, but those who initially put their faith in him. Indeed, with a goals per game stat of 0.50, passing success rate of 85.8% and a Man of the Match already under his belt, Pogba is currently the top rated player for Jose Mourinho according to WhoScored.
Numbers Starting to Add Up for Pogba
In fact, such is the renewed confidence in the young midfielders that he’s currently leading the betting on https://www.sunbets.co.uk/. As well as his own stats starting to show signs of improvement, Pogba is the 7/1 favourite to be crowned this season’s Player of the Year. Given that he wasn’t even in the running during the latter half of last season, a price of 7/1 ahead of Kevin De Bruyne (15/2) and Harry Kane (9/1) is nothing to scoff at. Now, it’s probably worth noting that his latest injury could affect his odds. With the latest prognosis suggesting his hamstring injury could keep him at for six weeks, there’s a risk he could lose the momentum he’s built up so far this season.
However, assuming he comes back before he develops too much rust, Pogba could be on for a scintillating season and there’s a few reasons why. One potential weight off the man’s shoulders is the fact he’s no longer the most expensive player in the world. As crazy as it might sound, the fact he was constantly referred to as United’s “record signing” could have easily had an effect on his confidence. Indeed, ever missed tackle or a stray pass received an inordinate amount of attention he may not have received if his price tag wasn’t so significant. Now, with Neymar bearing the burden of the game’s golden egg, Pogba may be able to play a looser, more confident brand of football.
Matic’s Key Has Unlocked Pogba’s Potential
Another factor working into Pogba’s improved performances this season has to be Nemanja Matic. The Serbian is something of a product of Mourinho’s tactics thanks to his time under the special one at Chelsea. The familiarity has not only allowed Matic to slot into the midfield and his assume his role as the man in charge of holding the line while others attack, but given Pogba more freedom. Although he may have lost a step, the 29-year-old knows what Mourinho wants and that’s a solid presence in the middle of the park so that Pogba can roam wherever his instincts take him.
With a roaming role now his, Pogba appears to be more comfortable under the manager’s 4-3-3 formation. In fact, when you combine this new tactical position with the team’s newfound confidence in their French prodigy, it seems he’s quickly growing into his role. Indeed, before he was forced off through injury in United’s recent Champions League clash with Basel, Pogba was given the captain’s armband. Far from being a token gesture, the decision to promote the young player is not only a validation of his performances so far this season, but his future potential with the club.
In many respects, Mourinho is subtly telling Pogba that he has the chance to become the top player in the world at one of the top clubs if he continues like he is. This is a powerful message to send to any player, let alone a young talent that’s still yet to hit his peak. While it’s true there’s a long way to go until the end of the season, Pogba certainly looks as though he’s starting to repay the debt he is. Even if he never quite lives up to his £89 million price tag, many United fans will be happy if he can put enough moves together to keep them top of the league this season.
Daniel Smyth is a sports and betting writer with a keen interest in poker, football and MMA. Over the last decade he has worked on some of the biggest events in betting and now produce a variety of articles for some of the online outlets in the industry.