In the first half of December, Paul Pogba’s Manchester United career was near rock bottom. He was labeled a “virus” by manager Jose Mourinho and also left on the bench for crucial league matches against Arsenal and Liverpool. However, since the Portuguese dullard was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Paul Pogba has finally been unlocked and given the freedom to illustrate the form that once made him the most expensive player in history. Given his performances since, it is difficult to argue against Paul Pogba being the best midfielder in the world right now.
The first thing distinguishing Pogba from the rest is his match winning ability. In just the five matches he has played under Solskjær, Pogba has scored four goals and provided four assists. The pass he provided for Rashford’s winner against Tottenham was a perfect example of his ability to decide matches with a single moment of brilliance. Compared to other great midfielders such as Modric, Kroos, Arthur, Verratti, or Pjanic, Pogba’s ability to turn matches with a goal or assist is unmatched.
Unlike so many other attacking midfielders who excel in the final third, Pogba is also capable of controlling the tempo of games deeper in midfield. In his new role at United, Pogba has the license to get forward, but we also frequently see him dropping deeper to get on the ball and dictate proceedings for his team. This was particularly evident against Cardiff where Pogba was decisive in the final third with two assists, but also racked up 100 passes over the ninety minutes.
Paul Pogba’s recent performances have also silenced the theory that he can only perform if surrounded by players like Vidal and Pirlo to do the work for him. If anything, his current midfield partners in Herrera and Matic are probably worse than what any of Europe’s other elite midfielders have to work with. Given Pogba’s all around ability and recent performances, I would suggest that he is actually better at “carrying” a midfield than any of the players bandied about as markedly better than him.
After performing below his potential during much of his time at under Mourinho, it’s understandable that many might be reluctant to give Pogba too much credit based on the few matches since then. However, he is quickly proving that his time under Mourinho should be recognized as the exception in his career rather than the norm. If he can maintain the level of performance he has recently shown and even inspire Manchester United to a victory over PSG, then Paul Pogba should finally be widely recognized as the best midfielder on the planet.