OPINION: Paul Pogba is the player who can do everything

Zito Madu says attempts to categorise Paul Pogba or cast him as a mere physical specimen are flawed – the luminous Juventus midfielder is capable of anything.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

And that treasure could potentially return a £70 million profit this summer.

Or if that man is lucky, the treasure could transform into one of the best players in the world in a few years’ time and lead not only Juventus but the Italian league back into the forefront of general fan consciousness.

It’s a tough task and a heavy burden for one individual but at this stage, there’s not much that Paul Pogba isn’t capable of.

Considering how young Pogba is, even in the weirdness that is the football world –where nine year olds are signed to future contracts and Martin Odegaard is the youngest player to ever play in La Liga at the tender age of 16—it’s still relatively absurd how, not just talented, but polished he actually is.

It’s the trap of a lazy mind that relegates even seasoned writers and managers to the stereotypical view of seeing Pogba as nothing more than a physical specimen. That he’s fast, strong, powerful, big and full of stamina. It’s an error in thinking. These physical tools are there but they only act as support for everything else that he can do.

Pogba is an exceptional dribbler, and his close control and ability to retain possession sometimes beggars belief. Like any confident skill player, he’s also been guilty of putting midfielders and defenders on skates in rare one-on-one situations. And many times, he’s bamboozled multiple people in tight situations for the viewer’s enjoyment. It’s one of the few skills in football that can’t be taught and Pogba has the tricks and flicks in bundles.

He’s also an excellent passer. It’s almost easy to forget or to ignore this aspect of his game considering who his colleagues are. Not many young midfielders are surrounded by such an abundance of engine room talent as he is, withArturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio as his tutors. But Pogba is as capable of an inch-perfect cross-field pass or a 60-yard diagonal ball as he is at out-muscling defenders.

Then for the most fun part, honestly: his ability from distance. Any half-way intelligent coach will correctly tell you that generating power and accuracy is less a matter of raw power and more the technique in striking the ball. Pogba is so good at it that he’s earned a nickname from it: Pog-BOOM! While not entirely the most creative one out there, it does help illustrate his skill in this regard.

He has a gallery of “oh wow” strikes from distance, each seemingly more stunning than the last. His calmness when approaching a hanging ball, his ability to set his feet quickly and gracefully twist his body like a ballet dancer, the unnerving easiness that he does it with; it’s frightening and wondrous at the same time.

It’s a natural tendency to try to compare him to other players in order to better understand his potential, and he’s elicited a wide variety of them. Some lazy –Michael Essien, Yaya Toure—and some more accurate. But the problem is that Pogba is special because he’s frankly good at everything. He doesn’t lack any particular skill; his development will hinge more on of the sharpening of his current attributes while experience will also teach him the need for concentrating for all 90 minutes.

He can defend and read the game well, he’s an exceptional passer, he has the ability to drive the ball forward from the midfield area comfortably and also has the added compartment of delicious foot skills to beat multiple defenders. He can score with either foot, both from range and within the box. He can head the ball –his assist to Alvaro Morata for the winning goal against Real Madrid came from a header – and so it becomes an exercise in futility trying to compare him to anyone in recent memory, as he seems to be more of a combination of players than a singular entity. And that’s what makes him special, that even in this golden age of football and multifaceted players, he still stands out distinctively.

Physical specimens aren’t as wanted or valued at such a price as Pogba is right now; they’re not as good either. It was always a mistake to see him as nothing more than a destroyer because of his size, speed and power. Not only is that line of thinking lazy and ignorant, it just doesn’t even begin to consider the uniqueness of such a player.

Against Barcelona in the Champions League, he will intend to take another step in his development: the ability to perform on one of the biggest stages of world football. Hobbled in the second leg against Real Madrid, he managed to still be influential enough to tilt the game in Juventus’ favour.

This time, he will be fully healed and hopefully at the height of his powers, and whether his future resides in Italy, England, France or Spain, the luminosity of it can’t be denied. Against the best team in the world, the world will finally witness the talents of Juventus’ crown jewel. Pogba had always known just how good he is and can be, it’s now time to show it.


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