Andrew Harding gives us a peek into the player who is touted to be the next Patrick Viera
Manchester United can go pretty much anywhere and make news, drawing media attention on a whim and seemingly creating supporters displaying devotion no matter where in the world they may be. This would be the case albeit toned down to a respectable British pre-season level as a young team representing Manchester United turned out on a wet Sunday afternoon at the Greenhous Meadow, the home of Shrewsbury Town. While Darron Gibson drew minor attention from those of a less fanatical nature and was the only player in the team to have tasted first team football for the Red Devils, a few eyes were set on the presence of a tall Frenchman wearing the number 7.
The number 7 is worn by a 17 year-old born on the outskirts of Paris by the name of Paul Pogba. He would go on to have something of a frustrating afternoon in Shropshire with Manchester United ultimately suffering a defeat by the solitary goal in three, United’s intensely narrow play suiting Shrewsbury’s reliance on attacking from the flanks. There were individual positives on display particular from the Frenchman. Pogba would regularly move the ball into areas where his teammates dared to tread and at times it was as if his teammates were looking for where Pogba was as opposed to breaking forward on their own. Pogba demonstrated, as he has on numerous occasions both for club and country, the versatility many feel is now required for a modern footballer as he is equally adept at playing in defensive and attacking roles in the midfield. Combined with impressive passing ability and the ability to not just look to but actively dictate the tempo of play in midfield, Pogba has all the ingredients required for a top-class footballer. However, for all his potential, Pogba is nowhere near the finished article and will be under more pressure than most as while some slip under the radar of the media and emerge , Pogba will always have eyes on him all thanks to the delights of the publicised tap-up allegation.
Pogba was in the middle of a storm back in 2009 as Manchester United signed the Frenchman from the waiting clutches of the team who had signed Pogba as a schoolboy, Le Havre, a club renowned for their ability to scout and develop talent despite limited resources. Le Havre’s claims that United had poached the youngster illegally turned out to be false but players involved in such deals are picked up by the media and often the hype-machine enters full swing with a young player trapped in the middle of it all. Such hype has eased a little but it will mean that should Pogba not fulfil the potential he has already demonstrated then he would be a potentially popular entry into the “What Happened To..?” polls later in time.
As a player, Pogba’s abilities have seen him likened to Patrick Vieira and Abou Diaby but at such a young age such comparisons hold only the vainest of water as there is a long road of adaptation ahead before the player can be analysed adequately as a finished product.
Manchester United, like title rivals Chelsea, have a somewhat low quota at present of talent originating from outside the British Isles that have graduated from the youth ranks to feature for the first team. It would be of no surprise if Paul Pogba would be the man to emerge as an example of youth scouting abroad paying off for the Red Devils.