Paul Pogba has admitted this season has been “the most challenging of his career” after appearing to slip down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.
The midfielder has struggled to make a regular name for himself since the start of last season. His lack of minutes stems from a host of causes, including injury and poor form.
Indeed, the 27-year-old was out of action for most of last season with two separate foot injuries. This term, meanwhile, he has suffered from a growing talent pool in United‘s midfield.
While he has appeared in all of the Red Devils’ seven Premier League games, he has only completed 90 minutes twice. Such a run has continued onto the international stage, with Pogba only playing an hour against Finland on Wednesday.
Last week, his manager for France, Didier Deschamps, spoke of the ‘mental impact’ of losing his place in the United side was having on the midfielder.
Now the midfielder himself has admitted his struggles are real. Furthermore, he claims being away with France and preparing for international football has given him a much-needed break.
The 27-year-old told RTL France: “I had never known such a difficult period in my career. The France team is a breath of fresh air, the group is exceptional, it’s magic.”
Prior to the international break, Pogba lost his place in the United side, having not started either of their last two games.
He appears to be down Solskjaer’s pecking order with both Fred and Scott McTominay winning favour in recent weeks.
Indeed, Brazilian Fred appears to have overcome his own struggles to finally show the form that convinced United to spend £52m on his signature in 2018.
For Pogba though, it will only increase speculation that his time at United is coming to an end.
Reports earlier this month claimed he was ‘angered’ by the timing of United’s decision to extend his contract. Furthermore, it was suggested his asking price for a 2021 transfer had already been set.
For France, however, it has been a different story. He has started both his country’s last two matches – a 2-0 home defeat to Finland and a 1-0 win over Nations League holders Portugal.
Deschamps on Pogba struggles
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Deschamps offered his perspective on the player’s situation. Indeed, he said that as well as the lack of form, Pogba’s struggles are also affecting him mentally.
“He knew he’d only have 60 minutes. It’s hard to take positives. Obviously Paul isn’t in the best period.
“Like all players who don’t have a positive situation in their club, they’re impacted mentally as well. I know him well enough. It can happen at some point, to anyone.
“They know the high level, the pride of being able to turn up. I then have decisions to make when taking into account the other players too. He knows that.”