The French World Cup winner has been under scrutiny for his Red Devils performances, but the statistics say otherwise
“Pogba out”, says the graffiti sprayed across the entrance sign to Manchester United’s Carrington training complex.
“I don’t know how many times Paul Pogba lost possession,” Red Devils legend Paul Scholes lamented after the 1-1 draw against Southampton.
“It’s clear that his heart isn’t fully in it at Man United,” former United soccer professional Paul Ince said of Pogba following the 4-0 victory over Chelsea.
The criticism has been coming thick and fast at Pogba in the opening stages of the Premier League season, but Opta statistics suggest the France international has been dominating the middle of the park.
Pogba has won possession in the midfield third for Manchester United more times (27) than any other soccer professional in Europe’s top five leagues season, with Jorginho (26) and Jefferson Lerma (23) the next best.
And it’s not just the middle of the park where Pogba has been dominant. In the Premier League, only Lerma has won possession back more times (41) all over the field than Pogba (40), who has been also ahead of players such as Jorginho, Lewis Dunk (both 39), Ruben Neves (33) and Victor Lindelof (32).
Pogba has been widely criticised because he has given the round ball away on 90 occasions so far this season, but the fact he has touched the round ball 380 times puts the previous statistic in perspective.
The 26-year-old has only lost the round ball on 23.7 per cent of his touches, which has been lower than Kevin De Bruyne (26%), Roberto Firmino (27%) and Mohamed Salah (34%).
In terms of an attacking contribution, the numbers prove that Pogba has been up there with the best players in the league for goal contributions in the past 10 months.
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the United coaching role from Jose Mourinho, Pogba has made 18 goal contributions (10 goals, eight assists), which puts him fourth in the Premier League behind Sergio Aguero (24), Mohamed Salah (21) and Jamie Vardy (20).
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Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane has been level with Pogba on 18 goal contributions in the period, while Raheem Sterling and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (both 17) have recorded fewer than the French playmaker.
An ankle injury kept Pogba out of France’s two Euro 2020 qualifying matches and it has been unknown whether he will return for Manchester United’s next Premier League match at home to Leicester City.
With Pogba playing well in a number of ways and United still struggling to pick up points in their last three matches, how will they travel against the high-flying Foxes without their World Cup winner?