Twenty-one-year-old Paul Pogba is the best young player in the world. This opinion is offered with no qualifiers or conditional statements. No need for interpretation or reading between the lines – he is the best.
In 2013, he was named the Golden Boy — an annual award given to the world’s best player under the age of 21 — and a list of fellow nominees shouldn’t have been necessary. That same year he lead France to a U-20 World Cup championship. This summer, with his country’s senior national team, Pogba was named the World Cup’s Best Young Player (also an under-21 honor) for his work partnering with Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi to form one of the strongest midfields in Brazil.
A uniquely versatile talent in a game that has become highly specialized, Pogba’s varying roles on the field extend beyond the “CAM,” “CM” or “CDM” slots our video games have labeled. He’s tall and strong enough to sit deep, play a defensive role and orchestrate an attack from the back. He has the vision and IQ to control the pace of a game from the middle. He’s gifted with the speed, creativity and flair to be an effective distributor and the power and finishing to keep opponents wary that he may provide the next goal himself. It’s with good reason that seemingly every wealthy club in Europe is hovering over Turin, waiting to snatch him away from Juventus.
Because youth is often its own inspiration, Pogba is still in the stage where enthusiastic players often choose form over function. Miles ahead of his peers, he’s good enough that he can approach the game in a way that he doesn’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
We should be thankful for every minute of it. His inspired play is the antithesis of the sport’s increasingly heavy reliance on efficiency metrics and tactics that are executed like something out of a corporation’s list of standard operating procedures. On the field, Pogba lives. He’s a throwback to the bygone era Ray Hudson is always screaming about.
Off the field, Pogba’s public persona stands in contrast to the bold moves and bolder hair he displays on it. He’s a bit of a minimalist on social media, opting to focus almost exclusively on his day-to-day with Juventus or France, rather than showcase his personal life. He’s not regularly featured in many ad campaigns and doesn’t have his own signature gear … yet. He may be the quiet type, or he may be smart enough to see the pitfalls that come with the celebrity that is surely coming his way.
More than perhaps any other player on #SG25, Paul Pogba has an incalculable potential for greatness. Watching the next phase of his career unfold promises to be even more intriguing than what we’ve already witnessed.
The Fake numbers
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