Paul Pogba has finally come clean on his summer departure from Manchester United and spoken out over the reasons for his return to previous club Juventus.
The World Cup winner was the subject of intense speculation for months as his contract at Old Trafford drew towards its conclusion. After signing for a club-record fee of £89.3m in summer 2016, Pogba clocked up 226 appearances during his second spell. However, the 4-0 hammering by Liverpool at Anfield in April proved to be his last outing for United.
That said, it was no surprise when his departure was made official. Bizarrely, it was his personal trainer who back in March revealed the player would be leaving.
In July, speculation over his future finally came to a head when it was announced that Pogba was returning to Juve on a free transfer.
Given Pogba had played for the Bianconeri before it was perhaps no surprise to see him return to Turin.
Unfortunately for Pogba, his return to Juventus has not started as he would have hoped. The 29-year-old has been forced to go under the knife to cure a meniscus problem in his knee.
And while scheduled to return to action by October 25, he already looks doubtful to make les Bleus’ squad for the 2022 World Cup.
Nonetheless, Pogba insists he is happy to be back in Turin having finally opened up on his decision to quit United.
“I like to think and say that it is my heart that made the choice. It was also perhaps the right time to come back here,” he told GQ Italia.
“The last three years in Manchester, also affected by injuries, have not gone as I wanted, it is no mystery.”
Paul Pogba wants to win Scudetto with Juventus again
He won four consecutive Serie A titles with Juve in his first spell there. And he admits the chance to try and reclaim their position as top dogs in Italy was a challenge he could not refuse.
“I thought that if we added to this the fact that Juve have also arrived for two years in which they did not win the Scudetto, it was a good challenge for both of us.
“And maybe it was the right time to meet again and try to take back the place that belongs to us, to me and to Juve. And above all to win again.”
Pogba is also citing his bond with coach Massimiliano Allegri and Juventus supporters as other reasons for the move.
“I have always had a very strong relationship with the coach. Nice, honest. He knows me and always pushed me when we were here together. Even when I was in Manchester we kept in touch and talked a lot,” Pogba explained.
With regards the Juve fans, he claims their supporters always have made him feel welcome. And while not directly calling out United supporters, he suggests that was not always the case during his time at Old Trafford.
“When I left, they were very grateful for the years together. I was young and they really always pushed me to the stadium, they were always behind me. I always felt the love of these fans, this is the truth. I’ve never heard such a great one, not even in Manchester,” he added.
Pogba will hope Juve move can kickstart career
On his day, Pogba is one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation. However, all too infrequently did United supporters see him at his best. Indeed, he spent plenty of times on the treatment table, especially during those last two seasons at Old Trafford.
Truth is, however, that his time there will not go down as a success. Indeed, he features three times in United’s top 10 biggest transfer mistakes of the Premier League era.
During the early period of his time at the club, he often fell foul of then-boss Jose Mourinho. Plenty put this down to a clash of egos, which is possibly a fair comment. But with his performances on the pitch fading, Pogba often went public with his desires to leave the club.
That did not exactly endear him to their supporters and Pogba was the subject of their vitriol on more than one occasion.
He did fare better under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the Norwegian doing his utmost to get Pogba firing.
Ultimately, though, he always looked like he would leave and it was no shock when he sealed that move to Juve.
He will hope the move can help him return to his best form. During his first spell in Turin, Paul Pogba was regarded as one of the world’s best in his position; form which convinced United to shell out a then-world record fee to sign him.