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Sport Pogba is still improving

09:05  28 july  2016
09:05  28 july  2016 Source:   skysports.com

Allegri: Juventus counting on Pogba

  Allegri: Juventus counting on Pogba The manager is hopeful the 23-year-old will still be at the club following the end of the transfer window amid fierce speculation over a £100 million return to Manchester UnitedMassimiliano Allegri has moved to end speculation over Paul Pogba's future, insisting Juventus are "counting" on the player next season.

Manchester United would not be getting the finished article in Paul Pogba but that should be a cause for excitement rather than concern. From his early days at Old Trafford through to his years in Italy, the Pogba story is one of continual improvement, writes Adam Bate.

Jose Mourinho has already had a taste of the noise that can surround Manchester United. So many club legends, so many opinions. As Mourinho put it, these icons have the opportunity to "create a more difficult situation" given the influence that they wield.

Barcelona were priced out of Pogba move - Braida

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Perhaps it was Paul Scholes who Mourinho had in mind given that the United great had recently spoken out over the proposed fee to be paid to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford. "I just don't think he is worth £86m," said Scholes, in typically forthright fashion.

"For that sort of money, you want someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi. Pogba is nowhere near there yet." Understandably, the headlines followed. But perhaps the key word in that sentence was the last one. Nowhere near there yet.

For while Pogba's talent has never been in doubt, not since well before he arrived United from Le Havre as a 16-year-old in 2009, his tale is one of hard work too. Hours spent in the gym and on the training ground, and the continuous improvement that those efforts have brought.

'No deal done yet' for Pogba, says Raiola

  'No deal done yet' for Pogba, says Raiola The Juventus midfielder is understood to be on the verge of a massive transfer back to Manchester United but his agent claims that any agreement is yet to be madeGoal understands that United have reached an agreement to re-sign Pogba, who left the Red Devils in 2012 to join Juventus, for a world-record fee in the region of €110m. However, Pogba's representative Raiola has since taken to Twitter to claim that no club has triggered a deal to sign Pogba at this stage.

Speaking recently to Pogba's old youth coach at United, Paul McGuinness, it's clear that not everyone is so concerned about the player not yet being the finished article. "You can't be that at 23," McGuinness told Sky Sports. "So you're paying for the potential."

For McGuinness, that "potential is massive" for Pogba to become a "special player". In fact, the excitement over Pogba's possible arrival should partly be because he isn't at the top of his game yet. Especially given that the Frenchman has a history of surpassing even high expectations.

Former United player Gary Neville is among many who have pointed out that Pogba wasn't considered quite as good as Ravel Morrison among the group that McGuinness took to FA Youth Cup success in 2011. But while Morrison has made little impact at Lazio, Pogba has emerged as a star at Juventus.

Again, the theme has been one of progress. "Pogba is a great player," Juve icon Alessandro Del Piero told Sky Sports last year. "He has a rare talent and is unique. He has great mobility and technique, combined with an impressive physicality. And he is improving."

Raiola: I don't give a damn if Pogba costs a world-record fee

  Raiola: I don't give a damn if Pogba costs a world-record fee The Italian agent says he is not bothered if his client becomes the most expensive player ever by joining Manchester United, insisting he only wants what is best for the midfielderAgent Mino Raiola does not "give a damn" if it costs Manchester United a world-record fee to prise Paul Pogba away from Juventus, insisting his only concern is getting the best deal for his client.

Pogba arrived in Italy as someone who, according to McGuinness, "would float out of games and whose positional play wouldn't quite be there" but there were positive signs as well. He scored five times, picked up a Serie A winners' medal but was learning along the way.

"That first year in Turin wasn't all easy for Pogba," recalls Valentina Fass, a reporter for Sky in Italy. "He had to learn to combine talent with discipline. Antonio Conte famously didn't line him up for a match (against Pescara) because he had been late to two training sessions.

"But the strong relationship he built with some of the French speakers in the team helped him. There were guys like Patrice Evra and, more recently, Mario Lemina. From the second season onwards he became part of the first team and started to grow and improve year on year."

He has been used as a regista operating in front of the defence, was given the No 10 shirt in 2015, and was even asked to play from the left side at times - a victim of his own versatility. But it also brought a completeness. Pogba has developed throughout all of these experiences.

QUIZ: Pogba's Man Utd career

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Consider the numbers behind his progress and it's truly remarkable. In Serie A last season, Pogba ranked among the top 20 players in the country for goals and for shots; for assists, chances created and through-balls; for dribbles and for tackles.

Despite already being an established star, this was his best season so far on all seven of those metrics. In fact, Pogba had more assists last season than in his entire league career prior to that combined. For the fourth year in a row, the frequency of his chance creation increased.

There were also signs of Pogba embracing his positional responsibilities. While still getting around the pitch to put in tackles, he was dribbled past less regularly than in the three previous campaigns - once every 125 minutes. The maturity is coming.

So is he now the midfielder who has everything? Is he, as former Juventus defender Lilian Thuram suggested in September, the trascinatore - literally, the feeder - serving his team up and down the pitch in attack and defence? With help, he's getting there.

"Even at 23 you don't have everything," said McGuinness. "What you need is an old head alongside you pointing you in the right direction." At United he had the best teachers around, with his Premier League debut coming alongside that man Scholes.

Ferdinand: Pogba doesn't want money - he wants to be the world's best

  Ferdinand: Pogba doesn't want money - he wants to be the world's best The former Manchester United defender believes his ex-team-mate will be returning to Old Trafford for the right reasons if his proposed €110 million transfer is completedRio Ferdinand has insisted that Paul Pogba's proposed world-record move to Manchester United is not motivated by money.

It was a similar story in Turin. "He landed at Juventus as a 19-year-old to learn from Andrea Pirlo," added Fass. "He has had some of the best midfielders in the world teaching him with Pirlo, Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio."

However, perhaps the key man to learn from now is not on the field but off it. Mourinho might have passionately defended his youth development record but it's taking players to the next level that's his real strength. It's that skill of transforming potential into consistency.

John Terry was 23 when he first played under Mourinho and became a club icon. Pogba could soon have the chance to do the same back at the club where it all began. At £86m, not every United legend is backing him. But maybe he'll become one of those legends himself - if he continues that happy habit of improving.

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