Paul Pogba admits Sir Alex Ferguson “made him think” about leaving Manchester United but former manager’s intervention came too late.
Pogba quit United in 2012 when he refused to sign a new deal after coming through the club’s youth set up. Juventus took the Frenchman, who has since established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders.
The 23-year-old has been linked with a return to United, with the Red Devils among the clubs said to be willing to pay Juve a huge fee, and Pogba has been speaking to ESPN about leaving Old Trafford, despite Ferguson’s belated attempt to convince him to stay.
“He’s a coach I respect a lot,” Pogba said of Ferguson. “But he’s a human. I’m someone who says what he thinks. Whether it’s Ferguson or Obama, I’ll tell him.
“Ferguson came to my place. We talked. It did make me think. He wanted to keep me, but I’d made my decision to leave.”
Despite walking out on United, Pogba acknowledges that he learned a great deal from his three years at Old Trafford, especially by watching the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
“With them you train to the end, up to perfection, because Paul Scholes, despite his age, was still there at the end of practice, hitting long passes, shots. He didn’t miss one. When you’re there, you have to adapt fast. I like that – always challenges.”
After being schooled by Scholes, upon joining Juve, Pogba then had the privilege of working and playing with Andrea Pirlo.
When asked which of Pirlo’s qualities he admired the most, Pogba replied: “His calmness, his confidence. He’d miss a pass and it didn’t matter – he was sure he’d succeed with the next one. He could decide matches. I’d like to be as decisive.
“Before he got the ball, he knew who he would give it to. Pirlo, Paul Scholes, they knew how to read the game. I manage that from time to time! Because I’m fairly big, I like to use my body. So I’ll control the ball, even when there’s a player on me, and then I’ll pass. They are smaller, so they’ll play faster so as not to be touched.”
After his time in England, Pogba admits he had to adapt to Italian football and the tactical nature of Serie A.
“My first training session here, I lost three kilos,” he revealed. “Here they really work physically and tactically. In England it’s more explosive, it doesn’t stop, but tactically it’s not the same as in Italy. And in Italy training sessions are longer.
“Maybe it’s not the best league, but it’s the hardest. Playing against an Italian team is harder than all the other leagues. The Italians won’t score lots of goals, but they won’t concede many either.”