Paul Pogba has explained how his role at Manchester United differs from his playing days at Juventus.
Pogba, 28, established himself as a precocious goalscoring midfielder in Turin after leaving Old Trafford in 2012, netting double digits in back-to-back seasons (2014/15 and 2015/16) before returning to Man Utd as the most expensive player in the world (at the time).
Often deemed an offensive–minded midfielder, Pogba has netted just seven goals in the previous two campaigns across all competitions, but the Frenchman insists he is happy to sacrifice his own personal output for the good of the team.
For France and Didier Deschamps, Pogba admits to having more “freedom” to express himself, a luxury he was afforded at Juventus as well, but under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer there is an emphasis on prioritising the defensive aspects of the game.
Pogba told L’Equipe: “It’s true that at Juventus it was different from Manchester. We were playing three in the middle, in a 5-3-2. I had the freedom, I had to be in the box, to attack. It was an obligation.
“In Manchester, I have the freedom to go into the box, but the priority is to play, to defend.
“In the France team, we play a 4-2-3-1 too. I’m a little more involved in the transition, in the construction. But I have more freedom than in Manchester to get into the box, to make runs forward.
“At the same time, when you have Grizou [Antoine Griezmann], Kylian [Mbappe], you don’t want to enter their spaces, you don’t need to.”
“I would like to play more offensively”
Despite Pogba’s insistence that he is content with carrying a defensive burden during matches, he did disclose ambitions to rediscover his prolific tendencies in Turin, though ultimately not at the expense of the “collective” endeavour of his teammates.
He continued: “I would like to play more offensively. Scoring 15 goals per season, that’s what I would like.
“But, we must put ourselves at the service of the collective. In Manchester, as with Les Bleus, the collective will always come before the player.
“Frankly, I still enjoy playing a little deeper. When Patrick (Vieira) said he preferred me at Juventus, I understand, I was able to express myself more further up, more with my technique. But it will always be the collective above everything else.”