The Paul Pogba debate picks up more traction with every disappointing performance, in spite of France’s Euro 2016 guaranteed progression to the knock-out phase. Entering just the second week of the tournament and already Pogba’s positional sense, competitive mentality and general quality have been brought into question. After losing his place in the starting lineup, it’s time to re-evaluate the status of France’s poster boy… Is Pogba overrated?
Pogba has quickly transitioned from the shimmering poster boy of French football into what the native media are now describing as “Le Casse-Tête De Deschamps” – “Deschamps’ Headache”.
In the build-up to Euro 2016, Paul Pogba transfer rumours were as commonplace as weather reports, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid all supposedly expressing their interest in the Juventus star on a regular basis.
At only 23 years of age, Pogba was placed on a pedestal, his ‘extraordinary talents’ were, perhaps still are, so coveted by the game’s elite clubs, that price tags in excess of €100m struggled to raise an eyebrow. The footballing world was sold on the idea of Paul Pogba – the player with a miraculously wide-ranging skillset. A serial champion with Juventus in Serie A, but not even a guaranteed starter in Deschamps’ line-up… something here doesn’t add up.
That there remains a question mark hanging over the midfielder is intriguing – France are still waiting for Pogba to flex his ‘world-class talent’ in the shirt of Les Bleus. Either Didier Deschamps has completely lost it or we’ve been overrating Pogba’s ability for a while.
Let’s be fair to the Frenchman, considering that he’s only 23, to be pitched as a national icon for the tournament hosts and touted as one of the favourites to win it, is bound to carry a considerable about of mental pressure. By comparison, at the same age Zidane still played for Bordeaux and was working through the ranks to establish himself in the national team.
But let’s work to the definition of the terms used to address this argument – do we think expect more from Pogba than he is capable of at such a young age?
When Pogba’s underwhelming performance was pitched to Deschamps, the French manager was subdued in his response – particularly when asked how he proposed to produce the same Paul Pogba seen at Juventus within the national side:
“I don’t know if that’s possible,
“He doesn’t have the same shirt, he doesn’t play in the same formation – Juventus play with three centre-backs – and it hasn’t prevented him from playing well with us.
“Paul can do better, but I don’t want to be too hard on him.”
Deschamps voiced his answer like a disappointed parent, listening everyone in the media room was picking apart his nation’s favourite son, the question had left a mark. Even Hugo Lloris, France’s captain, shared similar remarks of the Juventus man, encouraging yet demanding more of Pogba in a blue shirt:
“Clearly we can expect a bit more from him,
“It was our first match. Everyone was finding their feet. What was important was we won the match as a group. I don’t have any doubts that in key moments he will really come to the fore for the team.”
The issue with Paul Pogba is Serie A. The Frenchman’s impact on the game cant be summarised by a gif showing his amazing skill, or a 30 yard screamer because sometimes, it’s one of the only things he does in a match (but here’s one of his best anyway):
Pogba is massively overrated but you’ll all understand one day when he plays in a league where Totti doesn’t still outscore everyone
— Q. (@MesutTekkers) June 13, 2016
Pogba is overrated by little kids who watch youtube and haven’t seen a single Juve game or France match
— Wisam ☄ #ROMANIA (@WisamAC) June 11, 2016
No-one is discrediting that Pogba is a good player and a knee-jerk reaction after two games in a tense international tournament is by no means ground to completely write off his future prospects. But let’s face it, Serie A is not what it once it was – so to even begin comparing Pogba to Europe’s elite based on how many nutmegs he manages against Parma on a Saturday is unjustified.
Pogba just can’t be placed in that category, he’s unproven at the highest level. At only 23, Pogba has all the tools to develop into a world class talent, but he isn’t there yet. For all the hype and hysteria that surrounds the Frenchman, in his current state, his abilities are wildly overrated.