Manchester United have started the season badly, but Paul Pogba is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance this weekend
Paul Pogba wanted to leave Manchester United before the 2019-20 season, but Opta numbers suggest the midfielder can help turn the Red Devils’ poor start around.
Pogba is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance at home to Arsenal on Monday, the France international having missed recent action for club and country with an ankle injury.
The 26-year-old has been a lightning rod for criticism since returning to Old Trafford, becoming the world’s most expensive player when he left Juventus in 2016.
Pogba is still United’s key man – their sole world-class talent and a performer capable of winning games on his own when operating at the top of his game.
Here, we assess his Premier League career to date, comparing the upcoming landmark with his time at Juve, as well as other Premier League stars in his position.
PROLIFIC POGBA IN ELITE COMPANY
Pogba hit eight Serie A goals in each of his last two seasons in Turin, but since moving back to United he has improved his record in front of goal.
Aided by the fact he often takes penalties for the Red Devils, Pogba has hit 24 goals in his 99 Premier League appearances to date – which includes three games before he left United as a youngster unable to break into Alex Ferguson’s plans.
Pogba’s first 100 Serie A appearances saw him score 22 times, so his effectiveness in front of goal has increased slightly, with no midfielder netting more than his 13 Premier League goals last term.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 13, 2019
In fact, since Pogba rejoined United, only three midfielders have scored more Premier League goals: Dele Alli (32), Christian Eriksen (27) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (26), all of whom typically play closer to the opposition goal than the World Cup winner.
MORE ASSISTS SINCE UNITED RETURN
Pogba is also a creative force, of course, and his 49 goal involvements (goals plus assists) over the same period matches Sigurdsson’s combined total.
Opta numbers suggest Pogba has enjoyed significant development in this side of his game in the last three seasons, with 25 assists in his 99 Premier League appearances to date besting the comparatively low 11 he managed in 100 league games for Juve.
Pogba’s record in this regard compares favourably with the Premier League’s elite again. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has contributed a peerless 44 assists, with Spurs star Eriksen not too far behind the Belgium international on 38.
David Silva is the only other midfielder to have posted more assists than Pogba in this period, though, indicating his playmaking talents have perhaps gone under the radar. He has created 162 chances in 99 Premier League games, compared to 124 in his first 100 Serie A appearances.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 15, 2018
A MIDFIELDER WHO DOES IT ALL
Pogba’s all-round talents make him almost one of a kind in the Premier League. No other midfielders can match the combination of playmaking, goalscoring and ball-winning he offers to United when at his best.
Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Pogba has recorded 640 recoveries – a tally that beats of his Premier League contemporaries who offer the same gifts in the final third. This total is more in keeping with a defensive-minded midfielder like Mark Noble, whose recoveries tally stands at 616 in the same period.
Pogba’s tackle success rate in the past three campaigns is 70.29 percent, comparable to Manchester City’s energetic midfielder Bernardo Silva (70.79 percent) and, again, ahead of players such as De Bruyne, Eriksen, Sigurdsson and Alli.
My ancestors and my parents suffered for my generation to be free today, to work, to take the bus, to play football. Racist insults are ignorance and can only make me stronger and motivate me to fight for the next generation. pic.twitter.com/J9IqyWQj4K
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) August 25, 2019
Few midfielders dictate play for their teams to the extent Pogba does for United. Since his return to the club, he has touched the ball 8,190 times in the Premier League – a tally towards the top of the tree for the league and behind only David Silva, Eriksen, Fernandinho and Granit Xhaka.
However, one statistic clearly indicates Pogba is simply playing for a worse team at United than he did when at Juve. His win ratio in 99 Premier League appearances to date is 57 percent, compared to 71 percent in his first 100 Serie A games.
As good as Pogba is – at both ends of the pitch – he cannot do it all on his own.