Paul Labile Pogba (born 15 March 1993) is a French professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Manchester United and the France national team. He operates primarily as a central midfielder and is comfortable playing both in attack and defence.
After beginning his career with Manchester United in 2011, Pogba joined Italian side Juventus in 2012, and helped the club to four consecutive Serie A titles, as well as two Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. During his time with the club, he established himself as one of the most promising young players in the world, and received the Golden Boy award in 2013, followed by the Bravo Award in 2014 and was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe. In 2016, Pogba was named to the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year as well as the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI, after helping Juventus to the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final. Despite leaving Manchester United on a free transfer, Pogba returned to the club in 2016 for a world record transfer fee of €105 million (£89.3 million).
Internationally, at under-20 level, he captained his nation to victory at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup and took home the Best Player award for his performances during the tournament. He made his debut for the senior French national team on 22 March 2013 in a 3–1 win against Georgia, and scored his first World Cup goal on 30 June 2014 against Nigeria; he was awarded the Best Young Player Award for his performances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after reaching the quarter-final. He later represented his nation at UEFA Euro 2016 on home soil, where he scored one goal as his team reached the final.
Early life and career
Pogba was born in Lagny-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, to Guinean parents. He is a Muslim. He has two older twin brothers who are also footballers. Florentin, the eldest, currently plays for French club Saint-Étienne, while Mathias plays for Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam and the Guinean national team.
Pogba began his football career at the age of six playing for US Roissy-en-Brie, a few miles south of his hometown. He spent seven seasons at the club before joining US Torcy, where he served as captain of the club's under-13 team. After one season with Torcy, Pogba joined professional club Le Havre. In his second season at the club, Pogba captained its under-16 team to the final phase of its domestic league, the Championnat National des 16 ans. Le Havre finished second to Lens in the final group phase, finishing ahead of the likes of Lyon and Nancy. Pogba also established himself as a youth international for his country.
Departure to Manchester United
On 31 July 2009, Pogba announced that he was departing Le Havre to join the youth academy of Manchester United in England. The move surprised his parent club, as it allegedly had a "non-solicitation agreement" with Pogba, which was agreed to by not only the player but also his parents in 2006. The agreement, which was in place until the end of the 2009–10 season, allowed Le Havre to sign Pogba to an aspirant (youth) contract once the player met specific age and scholarship requirements. On 1 August, Le Havre released an official statement on its website criticising Manchester United and the Pogba family. Le Havre also announced its intent to ask FIFA to probe the situation.
In response to Le Havre's accusations, Manchester United threatened to sue the club, while Pogba denied he was leaving Le Havre for monetary reasons, which Le Havre President Jean-Pierre Louvel had alleged to be £87,000 and a house. Le Havre was also accused by Pogba's former club Torcy of using the same tactics it purported Manchester United to have used when the club acquired Pogba from its youth academy. On the same day of Pogba's announcement to depart for England, Torcy released a press release on its official website criticising Le Havre's accusations, stating, "We will not use the term 'steal,' but the recruiters of Le Havre acted the same way with the club in Torcy." The club cited Le Havre's acceptance of allowing Pogba to sign an amateur licence with the club without notifying Torcy as its primary reason why. On 7 October, Manchester United were cleared of wrongdoing by a judge appointed by FIFA, with the declaration that Pogba was not contractually linked to Le Havre. Despite having the option to appeal, on 18 June 2010, Le Havre officials confirmed that the club had reached an agreement with Manchester United for the transfer of Pogba. The terms of the agreement were confidential.
Academy and call up to first team
Pogba completed his transfer to Manchester United on 7 October 2009 and made his debut with the club's under-18 team on 10 October against Crewe Alexandra in a 2–1 defeat. He finished the 2009–10 under-18 campaign with seven goals in 21 appearances. The team finished first in their group, but lost to Arsenal 5–3 on penalties in the play-off semi-finals. In April 2010, Pogba was a part of the under-18 team that successfully defended their title at the Torneo Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi-Sassuolo in Bologna, Italy. In the 2010–11 season, Pogba remained on the club's academy team in the Premier Academy League and played with the team during the first three months of the season. In November 2010, he was called up to the club's reserve team and made his debut on 2 November 2010 in a 3–1 win over Bolton Wanderers. On 10 January 2011, in the FA Youth Cup, Pogba scored a long-range goal, described as a "piledriver," in the team's 3–2 victory over Portsmouth. The win allowed the team to progress to the fourth round of the competition. A month later, Pogba scored a similar goal in a 3–2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in the Academy League.
On 19 February 2011, Pogba was one of four academy players promoted to the first-team squad by manager Alex Ferguson ahead of Manchester United's FA Cup fifth round match against Crawley Town, for which he was assigned the number 42 shirt. He continued in the under-18s for the rest of the season, helping the team to a lengthy run in the FA Youth Cup; in the semi-final encounter against Chelsea in the competition, Pogba scored a goal in the first leg, a 3–2 defeat, and provided the assist for the opening goal of the second leg, a 4–0 win. In the final, Manchester United defeated Sheffield United 6–3 on aggregate to win their tenth Youth Cup title; Pogba started and played the entire match in both legs.
Senior team appearances
Ahead of the start of the 2011–12 season, Ferguson confirmed that Pogba would feature with the senior team during the season, stating, "I mean if we hold Pogba back, what's going to happen? He's going to leave. You know, in a couple of years' time when his contract is going to finish. So we have to give him the opportunity to see how he can do in the first-team and he's got great ability." Pogba was promoted to the club's reserve team permanently for the 2011–12 season and made his first appearance of the season on 15 August 2011 in the team's opening Premier Reserve League match against Arsenal. On 25 August, in the team's second league match against Swansea City reserves, Pogba scored the second goal in a 6–0 rout. On 19 September, he was named to the first team to participate in their Football League Cup tie against Leeds United the following day, with Ferguson proclaiming, "I intend to play him [Pogba] against Leeds United." Pogba appeared as a half-time substitute to make his professional debut as Manchester United won the match 3–0. Pogba made his second appearance against Aldershot Town in the Fourth Round of the League Cup on 25 October 2011.
Pogba made his Premier League debut against Stoke City on 31 January 2012, replacing Javier Hernández in the 72nd minute. He made another substitute appearance against West Bromwich Albion on 11 March. Four days later, he made his European debut in the second leg of the team's UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against Spanish club Athletic Bilbao; he appeared as a substitute in the 2–1 away defeat, coming on for Michael Carrick in the 63rd minute as Manchester United lost the tie 5–3 on aggregate.
2012–2014: Top of Serie A
On 3 July 2012, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson confirmed that Pogba had left the club after not signing a new contract. Ferguson stated that Pogba had signed for Italian club Juventus "a long time ago as far as we're aware." Ferguson also accused Pogba of disrespecting Manchester United, saying, "It is disappointing. I don't think he showed us any respect at all, to be honest. I'm quite happy that if they [footballers] carry on that way, they're probably better doing it away from us." On 27 July, Juventus confirmed on their official website that Pogba had undergone a medical at the club, and the transfer was completed on 3 August, when he signed a four-year contract. He made his first appearance for Juventus in a pre-season friendly against Benfica in Geneva on 1 August, coming on as a 78th-minute substitute for Andrea Pirlo.
Pogba's first competitive appearance with Juventus came in the Serie A match against Chievo on 22 September 2012, where he played the full 90 minutes. On 2 October, Pogba made his first appearance in the UEFA Champions League in a 1–1 home draw against Shakhtar Donetsk, and on 20 October, Pogba scored his first goal for the club in a 2–0 win over Napoli. On 31 October, he started against Bologna and scored the game-winning goal in a 2–1 victory. Pogba also contributed to the opening goal scored by Fabio Quagliarella. The midfielder was subsequently praised for his performance in the match by several Italian media outlets such as la Repubblica, Il Messaggero and La Gazzetta dello Sport.
On 5 May 2013, Pogba was sent off in Juventus' Scudetto-clinching game for spitting towards an opponent after being slapped in the face.
On 18 August 2013, Pogba was a key protagonist of Juventus' 4–0 win over Lazio, the match that won Juventus the 2013 Italian Supercoppa. During the match, Pogba replaced Claudio Marchisio and scored the first goal of the game; he was elected Man of the Match. In December, Pogba was named 2013's Golden Boy for the best young player in Europe.
2014–2016: Continued domestic success and first Champions League Final
In January 2014, Pogba was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe. On 20 February, Pogba scored his first goal in UEFA club competitions as Juventus defeated Trabzonspor 2–0 at home in the first leg of the round of 32 of the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League. On 14 April, Pogba produced an assist in Juventus's 2–0 win over Udinese, the same team that Pogba scored two magnificent goals against in the previous season. Later that week, Pogba scored the only goal in Juventus's 1–0 win over Bologna. Pogba was also named the man of the match for his performance. Pogba would prove to be a key player for the club that season, breaking into the starting line-up, and making more appearances (51) for the club than any other player across all competitions that season, also scoring 9 goals. He finished the season by winning his second consecutive Serie A title under manager Antonio Conte, and reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
On 20 September, under new Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri, Pogba contributed to Juventus's away win against Milan by providing the assist for the only goal of the game, scored by Carlos Tevez. Later that month, on 18 October, Pogba saved Juventus from a defeat against Sassuolo by scoring a decisive equaliser; he was later named Man of the Match. On 24 October, Pogba renewed his contract with Juventus, tying him to the club until 2019. On 4 November, on his 100th appearance with the club, Pogba scored Juventus's third goal against Olympiacos in the Champions League, helping them to win the match; this was his first ever Champions League goal. On 22 November, he scored his first brace of the season in a 3–0 win against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. On 28 October, Pogba was named as one of the 23 shortlisted candidates for the 2014 Ballon d'Or; at 21, he was the youngest on the list. In 2014, Pogba was awarded the Bravo Award, by the Italian sports magazine Il Guerin Sportivo, which is awarded to the best under-23 player who has participated in European competitions.
On 11 January 2015, Pogba helped Juventus secure their first win against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in 14 years as he scored a volley that helped Juventus beat Napoli 1–3. On 15 January, he scored his first goal in the Coppa Italia as Juventus defeated Verona 6–1 in the round of 16 of the tournament. On 9 March, Pogba scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory against Sassuolo to put Juventus 11 points clear of Roma at the top of the league table. In the second leg of Juventus's round of 16 match-up against Borussia Dortmund, Pogba was taken off during the first half after injuring his hamstring, and was later ruled out for two months. He returned to the starting line-up on 9 May, scoring in a 1–1 home draw against Cagliari, as Juventus celebrated winning their fourth consecutive Serie A title since 2012. On 13 May, Pogba set up Álvaro Morata's equaliser against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final; the goal allowed Juventus win the tie 3–2 on aggregate to advance to the Champions League Final for the first time in 12 years. On 20 May, Pogba set up Juventus's first goal as they defeated Lazio 2–1 at the Stadio Olimpico in the 2015 Coppa Italia Final. On 6 June 2015, Pogba started for Juventus in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final as the club were defeated 3–1 by Barcelona at Berlin's Olympiastadion.
On 15 July 2015, Pogba was named to the ten-man shortlist for the 2015 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. For the 2015–16 season, he was awarded the prestigious number-10 shirt, following Carlos Tevez's departure, which had previously been worn by Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio and Michel Platini. On 8 August, he assisted a goal in Juventus's 2–0 win over Lazio in the 2015 Supercoppa Italiana. On 12 August, it was announced that he placed tenth in the 2015 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. On 31 October, Pogba made his 100th Serie A appearance in a 2–1 home win over Torino in the Turin Derby, also scoring Juventus's opening goal from a half-volley from outside the area. On 24 November, Pogba was nominated for the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year, later being named to the team on 8 January 2016. Three days later he was named to the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI. Pogba excelled in his team's new creative position, which saw him gain more time on the ball, and played a key role in helping Juventus to the league title, scoring a joint personal best of 8 goals in Serie A, while also finishing the league season as the top assist provider in Serie A, with a personal record of 12 assists, alongside Miralem Pjanić.
Return to Manchester United
On 8 August 2016, Pogba returned to former club, Manchester United, on a five-year contract for an all-time record for highest football transfer fee at €105 million (£89.3 million) plus bonuses of €5 million, surpassing the former record holder Gareth Bale. Paul Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, received €27 million when the France midfielder joined Manchester United.
On 12 August, the Football Association announced that Pogba would be suspended for Manchester United's opening Premier League fixture of the 2016–17 season against Bournemouth, due to two yellow cards he had accumulated in the previous season's edition of the Coppa Italia with Juventus. On 19 August, he made his first appearance since returning to the club in a 2–0 home victory over Southampton in the Premier League. After the 2–1 defeat at home in the first Manchester Derby of the season on 10 September, Pogba was criticized for his lack of discipline in positioning by pundit Jamie Carragher. Pogba, however, soon recovered to form and scored his first Premier League goal for United with a header against defending champions Leicester City in a 4–1 home win on 24 September. He then scored twice, once from the penalty spot and then with a strike from distance, in a Europa League tie against Fenerbahçe on 20 October. Manager José Mourinho defended Pogba after the game, criticizing football's "Einsteins" for being too quick to judge the player.
On 26 January 2017, Pogba scored in a 2–1 away defeat to Hull City in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, which allowed Manchester United to advance to the final 3–2 on aggregate.
Pogba began his international career for France with the national youth football team and earned caps at all levels for which he was eligible. Prior to his international debut, Pogba was named captain of the under-16 team by coach Guy Ferrier. He made his youth international debut on 23 September 2008 in the team's opening match of the campaign against Wales in Llanelli. France won the match 4–2. Under Pogba's leadership, the team recorded impressive victories over Uruguay and Italy in the Tournoi du Val-de-Marne, and defeated the Republic of Ireland by a combined score of 8–2 over the course of two matches. On 31 January 2009, he scored his first youth international goal in the 2009 Aegean Cup Final against Norway. The goal gave France a 1–0 lead and the team won the match 2–1 to win the tournament.
He was a part of the team that played at the 2010 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship scoring both of his goals with the team at the tournament. He scored the only goal in the team's 1–0 victory over Portugal in the group stage and netted his second in the team's 2–1 loss to England in the semi-finals. Following the departure of Ferrier as the team's youth international coach, Pogba was re-instated as captain at his age level by new coach Pierre Mankowski. Mankowski had previously been the assistant manager of the senior national team under the reign of Raymond Domenech. Pogba made his under-18 debut on 27 October 2010 at the Tournio de Limoges against Greece in a 4–1 victory. On 24 March 2011, Pogba scored his first goal with the team netting the game-winning goal in a 2–1 win over Germany. The goal was scored from over 30 metres (33 yd) out.
Pogba made his debut with the under-19 team in its first match of the season against Italy on 6 September 2011. In the match, he assisted on two goals, scored by Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Anthony Koura, in a 3–1 victory. On 29 February 2012, he scored his first goal for the team in a 2–1 defeat to Spain. In Elite Round qualification for the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, Pogba scored the fifth goal in the team's 6–0 rout of the Netherlands. The victory qualified France for the competition. On 11 June 2012, Pogba was named to the squad to participate in the tournament. In the team's opening group stage match against Serbia, he converted a penalty in a 3–0 win. France reached the semi-finals where the team faced Spain. In the match, with France trailing 3–2 in extra time, Pogba scored the equalizing goal three minutes prior to the match's completion to send it to penalties. However, despite Pogba converting the opening penalty for France, Les Bleuets were defeated 4–2.
Due to the under-19 team's semi-final appearance in the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, the nation qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which merited under-20 team appearances for Pogba. Similar to the previous two seasons, Pogba was installed as captain by Mankowski and made his under-20 debut in a 0–0 draw against China. In the team's next match against North Korea, Pogba scored the team's second goal in a 3–1 win. Pogba was the captain of the team that won France's first ever FIFA U-20 World Cup. In that tournament held in Turkey, he played every minute of all of France's matches except for the final group match against Spain, in which he was an unused substitute. He was named the best player of the tournament.
Early career and 2014 World Cup
On 22 March 2013, Pogba made his debut for the French senior team in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Georgia. He played the full 90 minutes in a 3–1 win. Pogba then earned his second cap four days later in another 2014 World Cup qualifier against Spain, starting the match against the world champions, but picked up a yellow card in the 76th minute for unsporting behaviour, before being sent off two minutes later for a second bookable offence in a 1–0 loss. He scored his first international goal against Belarus on 10 September 2013 in a 4–2 victory, once again during a 2014 World Cup qualifier.
On 6 June 2014, Pogba was named in France's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. On 15 June, he started in central midfield in the team's first World Cup fixture – a 3–0 victory over Honduras – suffering a foul from Wilson Palacios which led to a red card for the Honduran and a penalty kick, which was converted by Karim Benzema to give France the lead. He appeared as a substitute in the team's second match, assisting a goal for Benzema in a 5–2 victory of Switzerland. In the round of 16, Pogba scored a 79th minute opening goal and was named man of the match by FIFA as Les Bleus defeated Nigeria 2–0 in Brasília. On 13 July 2014, Pogba was named the tournament's Best Young Player.
In May 2016, Pogba was named by national side manager Didier Deschamps to France's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016, to be played on home soil. Although much was expected of Pogba at the upcoming European Championships, in France's opening match of the tournament, a 2–1 win over Romania on 10 June, he endured criticism for his perceived negative performance after being played out of position, and was subsequently left on the bench by Deschamps for his nation's second group match, later coming on as a second-half substitute in a 2–0 win over Albania. In the round of the 16, he was once again the target of media scrutiny for conceding an early penalty against Ireland, prompting former England international Gary Lineker to tweet: “Is Pogba the world’s most overrated player?”; France eventually came from behind to win the match 2–1. In the quarter-final match against Iceland on 3 July, at the Stade de France, Pogba was able to recapture his form, putting on a dominant performance in his new midfield role, as he scored his nation's second goal of the night from a header following Antoine Griezmann's corner, which he had previously helped to obtain; he later started the play which led to Griezmann's goal, as the host nation advanced to the semi-finals of the competition following a 5–2 win. In the semi-final match against Germany four days later, Pogba was once again started in a deep-lying midfield role alongside Blaise Matuidi in a 4–2–3–1 formation; following N'Golo Kanté's introduction in the second half, he was shifted to a more advanced role, which gave him more tactical freedom, and he subsequently helped to create Griezmann's second goal of the match, as the hosts defeated the reigning World Cup Champions 2–0 to advance to the final of the tournament, where they suffered a 1–0 extra-time defeat to Portugal.
Style of play
Primarily a central midfielder, although he is also capable of playing on the left, in a holding role, or even as an attacking midfielder, Pogba has been described by his club Manchester United as a "powerful, skilful, and creative" player who has "an eye for goal and a penchant for the spectacular." In Italy, he gained the nicknames Il Polpo Paul ("Paul the Octopus") for his long legs that look like tentacles during tackling or running and "Pogboom" for his explosive playing style and energy on the pitch. A large, quick, hard-working and physically strong player, he excels in the air, and is also known for his stamina, as well as his powerful and accurate striking ability from distance; he has also drawn praise for his finesse, technique, flair, and dribbling skills. His characteristics and playing role in midfield have led him to be compared with former France international Patrick Vieira. During his final season with Juventus, Pogba was deployed in a more advanced and creative midfield role rather than in his usual box-to-box role, which saw him gain more time on the ball, and he excelled as the team's main playmaker, due to his vision, and passing range; his performances in this role saw him develop from a promising youngster into one of the best and most complete midfielders in the world. Upon Pogba's departure from Juventus in 2016, his former team-mate Gianluigi Buffon compared him to French former playmakers Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane, and also praised his ability, leadership, work-rate and attitude, both on the pitch and in training, stating that he "..is a tremendous warrior on the pitch but also has so much talent. His control of the ball and the way he can swiftly change the play from defence to attack is special."
- As of match played 1 February 2017
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Manchester United||2010–11||Premier League||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Manchester United||2016–17||Premier League||22||4||0||0||3||1||6||2||—||31||7|
- As of match played on 15 November 2016
- As of match played 15 November 2016. France score listed first, score column indicates score after each Pogba goal.
|1||10 September 2013||Central Stadium, Gomel, Belarus||3||Belarus||4–2||4–2||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|2||27 May 2014||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||9||Norway||1–0||4–0||Friendly|
|3||30 June 2014||Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília, Brazil||15||Nigeria||1–0||2–0||2014 FIFA World Cup|
|4||7 September 2014||Partizan Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia||18||Serbia||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|5||11 October 2014||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||19||Portugal||2–0||2–1||Friendly|
|6||3 July 2016||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||36||Iceland||2–0||5–2||UEFA Euro 2016|
|7||10 October 2016||Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands||42||Netherlands||1–0||1–0||2018 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|8||11 November 2016||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||43||Sweden||1–1||2–1||2018 FIFA World Cup qualification|
- Serie A: 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16
- Coppa Italia: 2014–15, 2015–16
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2013, 2015; Runners-up: 2014
- UEFA Champions League Runners-up: 2014–15
- FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2013
- UEFA European Championship Runners-up: 2016
- FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball: 2013
- Golden Boy: 2013
- Serie A Team of the Year: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16
- FIFA World Cup Best Young Player: 2014
- Bravo Award: 2014
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2015
- FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2015
- Serie A Top Assist-provider: 2015–16
- "006 – Pogba, Paul – Juventus Profile". Juventus. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- "Paul Pogba". Europsort. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- Guido Vaciago (4 December 2013). "Pogba vince il Golden Boy: "Darò tutto per la Juve"" [Pogba wins the 2013 Golden Boy award: "I will give everything for Juve"]. tuttosport.com (in Italian). Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Dave Taylor. "Serie A Team of the Season 2013–14". Football Italia. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Oscar del Calcio, dominio Juve. Buffon: "Donnarumma ha doti da grande"" [Serie A Oscars, Juve dominate. Buffon: "Donnarumma has the characteristics to be great"] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 14 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- "Gran Galà del calcio, la Juventus fa incetta di premi" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.