- Other Apps
Paul Pogba has been a revelation since joining Juventus back in 2012, but this year he has largely struggled to make an impact… Is it because his form has dropped or is he missing the right partner?
The Frenchman has been with the Bianconeri for four seasons, after making the switch from Manchester United as a free agent, where he has gone on to taste success each season.
Winning three back to back Scudetti, a Coppa Italia, two SuperCoppa Italiana and finishing second in last year’s UEFA Champions League, Pogba’s pace, creativity, potency and eye for goal was hugely instrumental during the Old Lady’s rejuvenation.
Following the exit of Andrea Pirlo, the 22-year-old was expected to take over “Il Maestro’s” midfield duties and instill powerful play in the middle of the park. However, this hasn’t been the case.
With just one goal so far this season, ‘Pog-boom’ has been lacking any form of oomph in his play, seeing him disappear for large periods of play for Max Allegri’s side.
Is it a case of Pogba being unable to live up to the pressure put on him? Have injuries inhibited his form? Or is he simply missing the perfect complement of player?
While all of these questions may be factors infecting his play, the latter may carry more weight than the rest…
When the midfielder made the switch to Turin, Pogba had the blessing of working next to Pirlo – a dream for any aspiring footballer.
Pogba knows that playing next to the 2006 World Cup winner was privilege and not a right: "I am lucky that I get to play with my hero - Andrea Pirlo. I make no secret I want to become like him. He has won everything and he has won it playing such an important role,” he told the Daily Mail.
The former Milan man pulled strings in the Juventus midfield like no other, and he was often the provider of the last ball to Pogba’s goals or assists. Together, they were simply unpredictable!
Pirlo’s exit to New York City has evidently impacted Allegri’s team, leaving a void in the midfield that no one has been able to replace as of yet.
The duo had a natural understanding on the field, and Pirlo was often providing balls directly to the United-youth product’s feet. This year, however, there is an evident lack of that supply at Juventus.
Playing next to someone like Pirlo will naturally lift any footballer’s game, and due to the 36-year-old’s pinpoint efficiency on the field, perhaps Pogba excelled above and beyond because he had to chase less through-balls and over the top passes in comparison to now.
This would mean he would be forced to run more, chase additional balls and spend extra time on the ball in order to make the perfect pass. If done incorrectly, he runs the risk of being dispossessed and this year he is averaging 2.1 dispossessions each game, according to WhoScored.
Another factor that could be unsettling him this season is that he has been forced to change partners in the midfield frequently this term. Having stuck largely with Pirlo for the last three years, Pogba has had to learn how to work with new arrivals Sami Khedira and Mario Lemina, as well as Claudio Marchisio this season, leaving little room for consistency.
Ironically though, Pogba has shown growth in certain areas of play, further begging the question that perhaps he is just missing a player who can read him like Pirlo did.
According to WhoScored, Pogba’s passing percentage has increased by 2.1%, he is making more crosses per game but his key passes per game has taken a dip. The marauding player is also finding himself attempting more efforts at goal, creating 3.6 shots per game in comparison to last year’s 2.2.
Injuries also haven’t done him any favours, along with the mass changes that the Bianconeri went through in the summer, but there is no doubting the player’s ability. His form may be taken a step back in Pirlo’s absence, but with time he should come right.