Manchester United v Everton: Match in pictures
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France were crowned winners of the UEFA Nations League last week as they beat Spain 2-1 in the final. A goal and an assist meant Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe stole the headlines, but midfielder Paul Pogba rightly earned plenty of praise for his role in the victory.
The Manchester United midfielder’s future is a hot topic for discussion at Old Trafford as he is within the final year of his contract and is yet to sign an extension.
Time is running out for the 28-year-old to make a decision on his future as he will be able to negotiate with foreign clubs from January.
From Man United’s side, there will be a reluctance for the midfielder to leave Old Trafford on a free transfer next summer.
PSG, Juventus and Real Madrid are amongst the interested clubs linked with Pogba, and his displays on the international scene have been a key factor in that.
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Pogba has arguably been better whilst playing for Les Bleus than at United, which has led many pundits to question his attitude at club level and also whether he is being held by back his team-mates or manager.
Some fans are not as reluctant to sell the Frenchman as a result, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will know just how important the midfielder is to his squad both on and off the pitch.
In footage that emerged from the France dressing room after Sunday’s Nations League final, whilst the game was 0-0, Pogba took on the responsibility of being a leader and could be seen motivating all of his teammates.
“We have to be aggressive! It starts from the front, all the way to the back we win the ball back and we attack,” he said. “Yes, we’re going to run a lot because they have quality players, but so do we. We have to keep the ball and hurt them. Second half, we have to be aggressive.”
Didier Deschamps’ side came out a new and improved unit for the second half and, although they initially went 1-0 down, the world champions always looked capable of hurting the Spain defence.
Pogba finished the match with an 82 per-cent passing accuracy, one chance created, 100 per-cent dribbling accuracy and six dribbles attempted — and was undoubtedly one of the star performers on the pitch.
The display and footage surprised some of the United faithful who have felt he lacked passion, but it really should have only consolidated what they already knew.
Solskjaer signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane over the summer in a significant injection of talent into the side, and the latter’s decision to go to Old Trafford was heavily influenced by Pogba.
Speaking to Sky Sports shortly after signing a four-year deal with the Red Devils, Varane said: “Paul spoke to me about the club, about the atmosphere, about the expectations. Of course, he is a great player. But he also has very good, positive energy.
“He is a leader for the group. I’ve known him for a very long time so I’m happy to play with him.”
Since Varane has arrived, United have only lost once – at the hands of Aston Villa – and look a much more sturdy unit. Pogba has been utilised as a left-winger so far in this campaign to fill in for Marcus Rashford whilst he recovers from his shoulder surgery.
The English forward is expected to return shortly which suggests that Pogba will be moved into the two-man midfield, where his leadership qualities should come to light.
But it remains unknown whether the Theatre of Dreams crowd will be able to watch the former Juventus midfielder for much longer.
Perhaps only when he leaves will United supporters and pundits be able to notice just how much of an influential figure he is.
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