Paul Pogba was unflinchingly honest in a recent interview with Canal Plus.
Despite being the fourth most expensive player in football, the Frenchman is under no illusion that he is yet to really cement himself as the best in the world in central midfield.
When asked by Canal Plus ahead of the World Cup what players he thought were better than him, Pogba spoke glowingly of those in teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City.
“Andres Iniesta, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Touré”, he admitted. His final choice may raise eyebrows, but does make sense after the initial confusion.
“Even Abou Diaby. He was exceptional at Arsenal… People forget about him but I learned a lot from him. He was an exceptional box-to-box player.”
?️ “On oublie, mais Abou Diaby, il était exceptionnel”
— Canal Football Club (@CanalFootClub) May 26, 2018
It’s easy to forget how highly regard Abou Diaby once was.
Pogba’s compatriot spent ten years at Arsenal from 2006 to 2015, but only played 180 times for the Gunners. Despite being compared to the legendary Patrick Vieira by Arsene Wenger, Diaby was arguably the worst example of a promising yet injury-plagued Arsenal star.
The 32-year-old suffered serious injuries to his ankle, thigh, hamstring and ACL over the years, curtailing what should have been a top level career. He returned to his native France in 2015, joining Marseille.
More injuries would follow however, with the midfielder requiring surgery on an ankle that would keep him out for four months in 2016. After just six appearances in two seasons for Marseille, Diaby is now a free agent.