Juventus can give Pogba support that Man Utd might not be able to provide
Juventus' Serie A win over AC Milan at the San Siro last April was important for a number of reasons. Not only did it demonstrate the team's experience, it made it 21 wins in 22 games and highlighted Paul Pogba's ability to frustrate as much as he can amaze.
According to reports, Manchester United are on the brink of the biggest transfer in football history: a £100 million move for Pogba. But there are many reasons behind Juventus' reluctance to let him go; Pogba is a player who has stunned the world with his mesmerising feet and pure technical talent. With the Bianconeri, the France international midfielder has had an opportunity to ply his trade alongside some of the best in the business while also being offered the consistency he so greatly desires.
Yet while he managed sublime goals and perfect assists, including the one against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League, the player is still very raw and requires more time to develop into the best. Much like we saw against Milan, he can drop in and out of games, and despite his incredible talent he is not capable of running a midfield. Youngsters make mistakes, especially ones who are under great pressure and play to their emotions. Once frustrated, Pogba tends to overcomplicate. Asked to dominate and Pogba will err, such is his desire to do better, be better and live up to everyone's expectations.
One could blame his age or the constant media attention the Frenchman receives, but he is a player who must have a team built around him, enjoy the confidence of his coach and play in a role that allows him to charge forward with freedom. His time in Italy has proven his ability to be a team player; his individual quality has made the difference in many games for the Bianconeri, but he relies on the strength of the squad and an organised tactical strategy to optimize his abilities.
Didier Deschamps made a mistake at the European Championship when he forced the midfielder into a defensive role, asking him to forsake his attacking ability and sit back to assist his teammates in the final. Pogba couldn't shine that day against Portugal and his frustration got the better of him. Many argued that the youngster failed to dominate even while playing as a member of France's three-man midfield, but it's important to note that he has developed his trade in Italy, the home of clear strategies and disciplined players.
At Juventus, Pogba knows he is always allowed to join the forwards, which spaces his teammates will occupy and what role he is meant to play. He perhaps has yet to learn how to vary his game and adapt to different circumstances and players. Playing alongside the skilful Blaise Matuidi for France confused him. The PSG midfielder plays to the beat of his own drum, covering every blade of grass to give the illusion that he is everywhere all the time. This type of play, while useful for France, hindered Pogba from taking risks or playing his own style of football for fear he would expose his team.
In short, France were simply too tactically disorganised to allow Pogba the freedom to shine.
Does that make the much-sought-after midfielder incapable of playing anywhere but Italy? Absolutely not. But it does reveal certain limitations. If Manchester United or Real Madrid think they are purchasing a refined player, they must think again. Pogba will need time to adjust and the protection of a club willing to let him develop in a safe environment. At Juventus, he found the minutes he needed as well as the patience to make mistakes and learn from them.
So the question remains: do Real Madrid or United have time to invest in Pogba's growth or will the need to win result in potentially benching a player who requires consistency to settle?
A brand name and a commercial asset, Pogba is needed at Juventus. The team rely on his technique and outstanding potential to penetrate the toughest defences. Off the pitch, his reputation ensures the sale of merchandise.
He needs the club too, and it is for this reason that he has struggled to leave. With Juventus, he is guaranteed playing time and an opportunity to be the star.
Yet despite this mutually beneficial relationship, Juve should agree to sell him if they do receive an exorbitant sum, especially if the player is seeking a new challenge. The hefty sum would allow the club to build upon their great foundations and purchase players required to achieve European glory, much like they did when they let go of a certain Zinedine Zidane.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.