Let me just preface this by saying, if Paul Pogba moves to Manchester United, they have signed one of the best midfielders in the world, who could go on to become one of the best we’ve seen in England and Europe.
But it presents a pertinent question, just how on earth do you fit Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in to the team, all in their best positions? If we assume Jose Mourinho will stick to type and go with his trusted 4-2-3-1, then we can also assume then that, when it matters at least, Zlatan has the striker position locked down.
But the problem comes when we get to the no.10 slot. As we saw in the Euro 2016 final, Pogba was shackled by being made to play in a deeper role by Didier Deschamps, he was given too much responsibility and while he far from shirked it, he wasn’t able to express himself like we’ve seen at Juventus.
In Serie A Pogba is given license to roam by having other, more defensively minded players behind him. He isn’t a deep-lying playmaker, he needs to be in advanced positions where he can devastate teams. Where he can justify his series of terrible hair-cut choices, and be the modern, dabbing during celebrations, social-media era player he is.
But as we know, Mourinho, who can see through Rooney’s 80-yard, diagonal lofted balls for what they are – useless and play-stunting – has removed any possibility of the increasingly-ineffective Wazza being deployed in a deeper role.
So that leaves the conundrum of having to either not play Rooney at all, or play him behind Ibrahimovic, and Pogba where his contribution isn’t quite as visible. And when you spend £100m on a player, you’re probably expecting some sort of visibility, you expect him to take over games single-handedly.
If Mourinho does what he’s known to do, then what we might see is the Frenchman behind the striker in bigger games, where he can play two defensive players behind him for protection. Whereas in smaller games he may play in the two, but with more freedom than he might usually be afforded in terms of being able to vacate the midfield from time to time, as the threat isn’t as large.
It will be interesting to see, if Pogba does move, just how much the pragmatist Mourinho will be influenced in team selection and positioning by his hefty fee. But one thing’s for sure, the no.10 role is up for grabs at United. Except for Juan Mata, poor Juan.