Jose Mourinho believes Paul Pogba can become one of the world’s best players and change the perception that only goalscorers can win the Ballon d’Or.
Pogba is in a superb vein of form after as low start back at Manchester United following his £89million move from Juventus in the summer.
The France midfielder scored his sixth goal of the season to give United a dramatic 2-1 over Middlesbrough at the weekend and Mourinho believes the record signing has all the attributes to rival the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world’s most influential player.
After the win over Boro, Mourinho said: “What has to change is people’s minds, because a goalkeeper never won the Ballon d’Or and it’s very rare a defender wins it — Paolo Maldini never won it,” said Mourinho.
“Even for midfielder players it’s not easy, because everybody goes for the goalscorer.
“Michael Owen won the golden ball because of his goals, and Cristiano and Messi score goals. They are phenomenal players, but I think until you change the concept and the vision, it’s very difficult.
“But if Paul keeps improving in this way, if Manchester United keep improving and doing well in European football, then I think he can be a phenomenal player.”
Mourinho has found a system to help get the best out of Pogba and the manager expects the 23-year-old to continue adding to his goal tally.
“He gets into dangerous positions,” said the manager. “He has a good shot. He can score goals from outside the box and is good in the air. So he can score goals like today or even from set-pieces.
“[Against Boro] he almost hit someone that was behind the goal, but he is a good free-kick taker so he can score goals like that. He’s a good penalty taker too — but that’s no problem because we don’t get penalties!
“He has a lot of qualities to score goals, so let’s see.
“At this moment we’re thinking more about the team than individuals, because we have so much to improve on. But let’s see what happens.”
Despite his fantastic form, Mourinho is banking on Pogba to get even better.
The boss said: “A player always has to improve. I think Michael Carrick [at 35] is still improving.
“When the moment comes when a player thinks there’s nothing to improve on, or a manager thinks there’s no way to improve, then it’s not good.
“There’s always something to improve. Even his Pogba’s physical potential that you see, the box-to-box player, he can be even better.
“He’s very young.”