Paul Pogba had been lauded as one of the players to watch out for in Euro 2016. However he couldn’t make a difference in their opening match against Romania and was dropped from the French starting XI in their recent 2-0 victory over Albania.
Pogba has not gotten off to quite the dizzying start that many expected at Euro 2016. He is yet to score a goal, though he did notch up an assist after coming on from the bench against Albania. There has been some criticism of his performances in the first couple of Euro games he’s played in, with some claiming he isn’t at his usual imperious best.
However Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has spoken out about the criticism of Pogba. The 66-year old French manager has urged critics to consider Pogba’s young age and give him time.
“Too much is expected of Pogba. We forget that he is only 23, and at 23 years old it’s hard to be the leader of France. Guys like Platini or Zidane were also questioned at that age. Pogba is still learning the trade,” said Wenger to French website footballstories.konbini.com.
“So suddenly you find yourself projected onto the top in an extremely brutal manner. He does not bring all that is expected of him, it’s normal for this age. He will be the player we expect at 26 years. I have known no player who carried the France national team at 23 years. No…Either he will lose the will he or will show that he is the player we expected and will improve further. This is the normal phase of a very good player on the way to a great player,” added Wenger.
Pogba needs to come up with stellar individual performances
Before the Euros, Paul Pogba had a good season for Juventus in the Serie A. The departure of Andrea Pirlo had put added pressure on Pogba to be the anchor in midfield. The 23-year old Frenchman responded in style as the Bianconeri marched to another Scudetto. Pogba played as a midfield anchor and chipped in with 9 goals and 14 assists, with his long-ball assists garnering praise.
However, Pogba hasn’t been as instrumental for France as they struggled to establish themselves against weaker teams like Romania and Albania. They face their first real competitive test against Switzerland and Paul Pogba is likely to start for Les Blues. The youngster needs to put up a stellar performance to answer the critics, several of whom claim Pogba is only effective with another strong player in the position of a holding midfielder. The Frenchman needs to show that he can succeed without the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Sami Khedira or Claudio Marchisio beside him.