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Red Devils rue loss of ‘Paul the Octopus’

FRENCH FANCY: Pogba in action for table-topping Juventus

PAUL POGBA’S sparkling form at Juventus has been galling for Manchester United and their fans given their midfield travails this season.

The 20-year-old departed Old Trafford for Turin in the summer of 2012 citing a lack of first-team opportunities under Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed him as a trainee from French club Le Havre.

“I didn’t want to sign a contract as Ferguson didn’t play me, even though there were no midfielders there,” he told the Times.

The youngster’s decision demonstrated a self confidence and several months after his arrival in northern Italy he declared to RMC: “Juve can help me to realise my dream of becoming the best player in the world.”

With a strut reminiscent of another former United player, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pogba combines box-to-box athletic ability and a svelte touch as he dominates and slices open opponents.

Pogba appears on course for his second consecutive Scudetto and is a shoo-in for Didier Deschamp’s France squad for this summer’s World Cup.

Standing at 6ft 3in he has been compared to his legendary compatriot Patrick Vieira. Yet Pogba’s predecessor in Les Bleus’ midfield considers the youngster a superior talent. “[Pogba is] more offensive than me and perhaps better technically,” he told L’Equipe.

His coach at Juventus Antonio Conte is quick to pierce perceptions that his young charge is arrogant. “Pogba is a modern player, as he is strong, fast and has stamina,” said Conte in August.

“He’s also humble, so listens to advice given by me and by his team-mates. I saw his interviews in which he said he wanted to become the best in the world. I am happy with that, because in my view he can be the best.”

His vision and eye for a telling pass have seen the young man affectionately known by Juventus fans as ‘Paul the Octopus’ take up an advanced position ahead of Andrea Pirlo but he is equally comfortable in the centre.

He also has the discipline to take a more defensive remit when required, although this facet has not been truly tested at the highest level.

Interest from Paris Saint-Germain president and Pogba’s own admission that he dreamt of turning out for Arsenal and Barcelona as a child has to be read in light of his satisfaction to remain at Juventus.

Nonetheless that is unlikely to prevent suitors lining up to court the man that Manchester United let get away.

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