Pogback! Can Man Utd’s flop really save his club career at Juventus?
It should be noted, however, that there were never any complaints about his character, his fashion choices or his off-pitch activities during his time at Juve.
Former goalkeeper Gigi Buffon described him as an excellent coach and a great team-mate, once telling a young Pogba not to care about outside criticism: “You have your haircut, you dress like you want: it’s on the pitch that counts.”
The problem at United, of course, is that Pogba hasn’t delivered on the pitch for United, at least not consistently.
It may not have always been his fault, of course; United’s problems run much deeper than their perceived failures.
He – and Raiola – may have contributed to the constant chaos at Old Trafford, but he was also a victim of it.
Perhaps he will have learned from the experience. Perhaps that will have prepared him for what awaits him at Juve. Maybe joining Juve will bring out the best in him.
This time, however, the pressure is on Pogba. There won’t be world-class players around him in midfield. And there will be no legends to rely on.
Pirlo and Buffon are long gone, and longtime captain Giorgio Chiellini has just left, along with Pogba’s friend Paulo Dybala.
Even the club’s supposed new leader Matthijs de Ligt is ready to jump ship, with the Dutch defender expected to join Chelsea or Bayern Munich soon.
De Ligt’s exit is set to raise funds to bolster the squad – Nicolo Zaniolo and Kalidou Koulibaly are among their top transfer targets – but Juve are clearly in a period of transition, as the season’s fourth-place finish underlined last in Serie A.
And the argument has always been that Pogba has only really excelled in strong teams (at club level with Juventus and at international level with France). There’s no shame in that, of course. It’s obviously easier to shine in the Stellar Sides.
Really great players, however, can sometimes carry entire squads, and that’s exactly what Allegri will be asking him for at regular intervals over the next campaign.
There’s an understandable fear, given the way things have gone at United, that he won’t measure up, at least not in the Champions League, not with this Juve side.
Yet, after Manchester’s misery, it’s easy to see why Pogba decided to return to Turin, where he was happiest, on and off the pitch.
But, six years after his transfer to Old Trafford, it is difficult to get rid of the suspicion that once again Pogba chose the wrong project at the wrong time…