Paul pogbaThe Manchester United midfielder has set a searing pace in the race for the award for the player with the most assists in the 2021-22 Premier Legue to date. In two games he already has five assists for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, more than he gave in three of his five full seasons at Old Trafford.
Although United failed to build on the 5-1 hometown triumph they won on the first date against Leeds (when Pogba created four of United’s five goals) and drew 1-1 at Southampton on Sunday, the play created by the French international was the one that led to the tying goal of Mason Greenwood at St Mary’s, and Pogba almost managed to win the match on final with a left shot that went just wide.
Time will tell if Southampton’s result was a point won or two lost by United. It is still too early to assess the prospects for any team this season with a mere 180-minute display of football against opponents of widely varying levels, so a draw at St Mary’s could prove to be a positive outcome for Solskjaer and his players. But what’s not in doubt is Pogba’s commitment and contribution despite the uncertainty about his future at United, which could easily have left the 28-year-old on autopilot until the expiration of his £ 300,000 weekly contract at June 2022.
The former Juventus star was one of the most prominent players at Euro 2020 earlier this summer, when the most cynical might have suggested he was acting to impress clubs like Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, who have long been interested in signing him. But the alternative view is that Pogba has reached an age and maturity that guarantee greater consistency and responsibility in his game, and has transferred his excellent international level to club football with United during the first days of the new Premier League season.
You may be playing with the freedom that comes with knowing your fate is in your own hands now with less than 12 months to go until your United contract expires. Pogba is in a very fortunate position; all potential scenarios suit him, and wherever you look at him he has everything to win.
He can exhaust his contract and leave United as a free agent next summer; He can sign a lucrative new long contract at Old Trafford before the season is out; You might even be leaving for a new club before the 11pm BST trade deadline on August 31st. And he also has a chance to evaluate his options as a free agent next year and decide to stay with United under whatever conditions are offered.
Regardless of what he ends up deciding, Pogba will end up winning, so it’s no surprise that he’s playing so freely alongside his fellow midfielder, Bruno fernandes, at United. But while Pogba knows he doesn’t really have a bad decision waiting for him, sources have told ESPN that United is also relaxed about his contract situation. While they want Pogba to stay, and are willing to negotiate a new deal that the player likes, there is also an acceptance that he is unlikely to end up committing to a new contract as the current deal is so close to being reached. to its expiration date.
As ESPN reported earlier in the month, Pogba’s departure during this passing window would free up a significant amount of money for Solskjaer to continue to strengthen this squad following the winger’s arrivals, Jadon sancho; the defender, Raphael varane; and the archer, Tom heaton.
Pogba’s form so far suggests that United would feel his absence, but if his departure resulted in the signings of the Atlético Madrid defender, Kieran trippier, and the 18-year-old star midfielder from Rennes, Eduardo Camavinga, greater depth could prove to be more valuable to Solskjaer than Pogba’s unpredictable talent.
In many ways, Pogba and United are measuring each other. Pogba wants to win big titles and he wants to win them now, so he needs to be convinced that Solskjaer will be able to get them at Old Trafford, but the United manager, and many others at the club, have seen Pogba shine strongly in the past, just to not meeting expectations when it has been most needed.
Pogba’s talent has never been in question at United, but his consistency has always been accompanied by an important question mark and his stellar start to the season this year now presents him with the challenge of proving that it has not been another false dawn. His best season in terms of assists since returning to United in 2016 was in 2017-18, when he created 10 Premier League goals for the team, so he’s already halfway to matching that total after just two games. . His other seasons ended in four, nine, three and three assists respectively.
Harry Kane, Tottenham, won the Playmaker of the Year award last season with 14 assists, with Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City winning it in 2019-20 with 20 (which tied the league record for assists with Arsenal player Thierry Henry). De Bruyne also topped the list in 2017-18 with 16, before Chelsea’s man, Eden Hazard, will be first with 15 a year later.
Pogba has never been close to those numbers – De Bruyne has added 78 assists in 181 games for City compared to 34 in 139 for the United player – but now he has a chance to break through and advance both personally and for himself. United success.
All we need to know now is whether he can maintain his form and whether, five years after arriving at Old Trafford, he finally manages to become the consistent game-changing player that everyone has hoped he would be since his arrival.