Can Paul Pogba Carry World Cup Brilliance over to Man United this Season?

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By Patrick Pierce

Paul Pogba has delivered some hugely impressive performances alongside N’Golo Kante in a formidable French engine room this World Cup; propelling Les Bleus to the tournament final.

He bossed France’s semi-final clash with Belgium and showed just why Manchester United shattered the world transfer record to bring him back to Old Trafford. It was just like watching Patrick Vieira in his prime, only with a range of passing akin to that of Andrea Pirlo. He blended energy, athleticism and dynamism with grace, poise and flair, and that is a devastating combination.

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If only he could play like that for United every week. Pogba always looks better in a France shirt, and it could simply be a case of Didier Deschamps knowing how to get the best out of him. First off, he is playing alongside an elite holding midfielder in Kante.

Nemanja Matic does a decent job for United, but Kante covers a lot more ground and that allows Pogba free rein to operate effectively in the box-to-box role that he thrives in. Together they form a formidable duo, full of muscularity and vitality, and it’s clear Pogba could benefit from playing alongside someone with similarly tigerish characteristics at Old Trafford.

However he also looks a lot more comfortable playing for France. It seems like he is given more freedom of expression and his mistakes are tolerated to a greater degree, allowing him to take more risks.

He has displayed great positivity throughout this tournament, frequently driving forward with the ball at his feet or playing exquisite long balls. He is enjoying his football more, looking relaxed and actually playing with greater efficiency as a result. This is a player that perhaps needs more of a friendly arm around the shoulder, rather than the ruthlessness that Jose Mourinho often opts for.

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The French team is also built around him more than the Red Devils side is. At his club, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have often got in his way, operating in the spaces he likes to surge into, and that has held him back. For his country, he has space to drive into, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe peeling out wide to make way for him.

If Mourinho can learn from Deschamps and encourage Pogba to play a similar role for United next season, the club could benefit enormously.

The Red Devils are not given much of a chance of winning the league next season, as Man City are the overwhelming favorites for the title and Liverpool have been installed as second favorites.

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If Pogba can channel the brilliance of his France displays into his club football, they have every chance of usurping Man City and Liverpool. Mourinho is clearly impressed with his contribution for Les Bleus.

“I think a very good performance by Pogba,” said the Portuguese after the semi-final.

“Pogba was mature, he played with maturity when he had to, to hold position and keep control of the play he did. France was good at the basic things of the game. They defended well, they were compact.”

It must have given Mourinho food for thought and we can only hope that we see a revitalized, confident Pogba bossing the midfield for the Red Devils next season.

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