While the world of football waits in anticipation for the second debut of Paul Pogba at Manchester United, one legend of the game has no doubt that the French midfielder will succeed at Old Trafford the second time around, and is amazed the club allowed the talented player to leave in the first place.
Andrea Pirlo is one of the all-time greats, and when he talks you listen.
When Pogba arrived at Juventus from Manchester United as a fresh-faced 19-year-old he did not take long to impress the midfield maestro, so much so he laughed at how Manchester United had let such a hot prospect walk away.
As reported in The Telegraph, Pirlo said:
“On the first day training session Pogba had with Juventus the players were laughing.
“We were not laughing for any other reason than we were just in total disbelief that this player with so much obvious ability was able to leave a club the size of Manchester United for free — and I think Juventus are still laughing.
“I will always remember the first day he trained at Juventus. He was only young, but we could see he was special.
“We were walking back to the dressing room after the session and I clearly remember Gianluigi Buffon coming up to me laughing and he just said: “Did they really let him go for free?”
Pogba had a point to prove when he left Manchester United. Not many people in the game doubted Sir Alex Ferguson and if he thought a player was not of the standard required at Manchester United, for whatever reason, one would be inclined to believe him.
In his time in Italy Pogba proved Sir Alex wrong. In his four seasons with Juventus, the France international won four successive Serie A titles, two Coppa Italias and played in the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona last term as well as winning personal accolades such as being included in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2015.
While everyone at United is delighted to have Pogba back and the young midfielder has returned a much better player than when he left, he still will be eager to prove to the watching Ferguson up in the stands that he was wrong to let him go and that he has the class, temperament and ability to be a Manchester United player.
Pirlo has no doubt the 23-year-old will help restore United to the top once again and become a real force under Jose Mourinho, adding the midfielder is a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or in the future.
“He is the best young player I have ever seen, and I don’t think we are far away from calling him the best player in the world. It has been between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for many years now, but football should get ready for a new king.
“I think Pogba will make Manchester United a real force again. One player of that quality can change things. They will lift the players, the fans. You give any team Pogba and Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] in one window and they are going to capable of special things.”
High praise indeed from such a great of the game.
Now Pogba will be eager to get chapter two of his Manchester United career under way when Southampton travel to Old Trafford under the lights on Friday night.
While it will be a special night for Mourinho, Ibrahimovic and the rest of the new players making their competitive bow at Old Trafford, all eyes will be on Pogba as he runs out on to the turf, ready to prove his doubters wrong and show his price tag will turn out to be value for money.
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena