Paul Pogba is likely to face the most crucial decision of his career over the next few months, with his Manchester United future still unclear and less than a year left of his contract.
Reports earlier this week claimed that the goal for Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus is telling people within his inner circle that his wish is to sign a new £ 400,000 a week at Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season and there are few who would like to see the Frenchman retire on a free transfer when his contract expires.
Paul Pogba (left) faces the most crucial decision of his career at Manchester United
The 28-year-old has less than 12 months left on his contract, but will reportedly stay on
But a contract containing such eye-catching salaries would represent further significant investment for a player whose form consistency has fluctuated constantly since signing a £ 89m deal from Juventus more than five years ago.
These constant tops and troughs in form have been somewhat represented in his form this season for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men.
He seemed to easily surpass Thierry Henry and Kevin De Bruyne’s joint Premier League record of 20 in a season as he scored seven in his first four top flight matches in the current campaign against the likes of Leeds, Southampton and Newcastle.
He can still manage to challenge the Frenchman and the Belgian’s record, and without a doubt it plays into a deeper position that the creation of chance is a little more challenging than before.
Pogba started the season in style, claiming four assists in the opening weekend against Leeds
But Pogba has failed to contribute a single goal or assist in his last five United games
But since recording two assists at Ronaldo’s second debut against Newcastle, Pogba has failed to contribute a single goal or assist in the five matches he has played in the side across all competitions.
So what do the statistics tell us about how effective Pogba has been this season compared to last, and do they justify him signing him the £ 400,000 per Week, he so desperately wants to?
Well, as you might expect given his brilliant start to the season in scoring goals – which included four in a game in the opening weekend against Leeds – his numbers from his nine games across all competitions look promising.
It should be noted that despite the comparison that takes place when Pogba has played the same number of matches as last season, he has been on the pitch for 693 minutes during this period as opposed to 477 minutes at this stage in 2020- 21.
Nevertheless, it should not undermine any of the results of the French international so far in the current campaign.
Pogba’s shooting has taken a turn for the worse and lacks four great chances created during this period
He has created 14 chances in the Premier League so far this season, putting him tenth on the list in the entire division in that category, with teammates Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandez seventh and first on the list.
He has also created two more in the Champions League, meaning he has created more than three times as many chances at this stage this season (16) than he had at this point in 2020-21 (five).
Pogba also tops the charts when it comes to assists – all of whom have joined the league – despite his recent lack of additions to his list with Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure his closest challengers with four.
|Pogba First 7 PL Games & First 2 CL Games||2020-21||2021-22|
|Shots, on target||2||4|
|Shots, total (incl. Blocks)||6||19|
|Great chance scored||0||0|
|Great chance missed||0||4|
|Conversion with great chance||0%||0%|
|Chances created (incl. Assists)||5||16|
|Great opportunity created||1||2|
All of Pogba’s assists have been from open play, while two of them are considered big chances. But that is, regardless of the details, a big improvement over last season, where he had only managed a few assists from nine games.
He has also been meticulous as well as lethal with the ball, managing a passing accuracy of nearly 85 percent this season in the league and 84 percent in all competitions.
That is a statistic that is particularly impressive, given that Pogba appears to be more willing to pass the ball than last season, attempting 443 passes in 2021-22 as opposed to 288 in that period.
About 373 of those passes this season have been successful, while 233 were at this point in the 2020-21 season, giving him a pass rate of 81 percent at the time.
The Frenchman has also played in a deeper midfield role since Ronaldo’s return rather than towards the left, making his ability to break the lines of his runs – as well as his passes – a critical part of his game.
A dribbling success of nearly 74 percent in the league and 69 percent across all competitions suggests he does both effectively.
This is especially true as he has attempted five more dribbles during this period and completed seven more, giving him a 17 percent increase on his dribbling success of 52 percent at this stage last season in the league and Champions League combined.
However, tackling and the ability to win the ball in duels is also an increasingly critical aspect, now that he is being positioned in a less advanced role by Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
He seems to excel with his tackles and wins 75 percent of them so far in the league, although a success rate of 50 percent in that category in Europe sees his overall tackle success rate drop from 70 percent last season to 67 percent.
But a duel success rate of less than 50 percent – 46 percent in the Premier League and 47 percent overall – may indicate that there are some weaknesses or discomfort he feels in that role.
It is undoubtedly an improvement of 41 percent duels success rate after nine games last season, where he had lost 65 of his 111 duels, yet it highlights an area of his game he could still improve.
However, Pogba’s biggest downfall this season seems to come from his end in and around the opposition box.
The 28-year-old has failed to score so far this season and is missing all four big chances laid on him. The silver lining seems to be that he now seems to be more willing to hit goals than last season.
Pogba has had a total of 19 shots this season, compared to just six at this stage last season. However, problems arise when only four of them have been registered as targets.
It yields a shooting precision return of just 21 percent, 12 percent lower than his total in the previous campaign, as two of his six bets were either saved by the goalkeeper or blocked.
But he has looked good in tackling after getting a deeper role at United this season
One man who has, however, been able to find the net with some regularity is Ronaldo, who has already scored five since returning to Old Trafford.
And The team claims the arrival of the Portuguese, as well as the summer signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho to strengthen Solskjær’s squad, is a key factor in Pogba’s decision-making process on whether to hold on or twist.
A similar claim was made by The Athletic after Ronaldo and Pogba shone against Newcastle and insisted the game had a significant positive impact on Pogba, with the feeling now that the midfielder staying at the club is becoming a realistic option .
It therefore appears that Pogba not only appreciates Ronaldo’s importance in raising United’s status among Europe’s elite, but also as a star with a fundamental role to play on the pitch.
The Frenchman has transitioned to his Portuguese team-mate on 33 occasions in the 420 minutes they have played together this season.
This is due to the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo (right), who he has given to on 33 occasions
Ronaldo has only returned advantage 17 times, but again, Pogba’s deeper role may have influenced that given Ronaldo’s preference to always look ahead and create danger rather than return.
But it still represents 50 completed passes between the duo an average of 10.7 passes per. Fight, which represents a superior rate in relation to Fernandes’ success in attaching himself to his countryman.
Fernandes has completed 22 passes for his Portuguese team-mate in 460 minutes, a drop of 11 in 40 more minutes than Pogba. But the 36-year-old has actually managed 25 passes to Fernandes, resulting in a 9.2-pass average every 90 minutes.
Both figures stop far from the connection between Pogba and Fernandes, who have completed 106 passes between them on average just shy of 15 per. Match.
The most important thing for Solskjær, however, is that all three partnerships work well over the next few months, with United facing a nightmare of matches.
That’s more than Bruno Fernandes (right) has given to his Portuguese teammate (left)
They face everyone except one of the other sides who finished in the top eight last season as well as difficult away pitches in the Champions League.
And truth be told, their form ahead of those matches is an issue where United have only won two of their last six matches in all competitions, which includes taking just one point from home matches against Aston Villa and Everton.
Pogba’s decision on whether or not he will stay is likely to be determined by United’s success this season as well, and this round of matches will determine whether Solskjaer’s side are in control of winning silverware.
But in the same way, United will also assess Pogba’s value to the squad in relation to his salary demands, and while the jury is out on whether they would be justified given his mixed performance this season, he can use the next set of fixtures to highlight his importance to the club once again.
Pogba has a chance to highlight his importance in the club’s nightmare run