Paul Pogba has named the two players he feels have had the biggest influence on his career – with a pair of modern-day greats coming in for wholesome praise from the Manchester United star.
Despite a season of huge frustration at long inactivity, Pogba has rarely found himself out of the news and his put-down of his fiercest critic – Scottish firebrand Graeme Souness – is the amusing story of the day you simply have to read.
The player continues to be strongly linked with a return to previous club Juventus and while he has not commented on his future, he has received some recent words of encouragement from his manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Paul and Marcus [Rashford] have been out, now we’ve still got games left, and I think everyone in the league will start more or less on the same level,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“Maybe they’ve got more motivation to keep going now, as they can see when they’re back they may be on the same level or even a better level physically.
“In a way, they have got an opportunity here to play a bigger part in this season than they had hoped.
“And they are big players for us, some of the most important players.”
Pogba, of course, made his way in the game through United’s academy and he said he learned first from Paul Scholes and then Andrea Pirlo at Juventus on what was necessary to become a top level midfielder.
“You learn a lot and you look at them,” Pogba told the United Podcast. “I really learned and have been learning. It was unbelievable for me, seeing them training like that, and it pushed me.
“Okay, I have to work hard and have a lot more to do. Pirlo and Scholes, those are midfielders who control the game, the players to look at, and I learned from them, a lot.
“I started as a striker and then a number 10 and then a number six. Thank God, I didn’t go to centre-back! It was because I wanted to touch the ball too much.
“I was the striker and dropping too much, so one coach told me: ‘Okay, play the number 10 and touch the ball more.’ I still loved the ball too much and had too many touches, so he put me at number six.”
Pogba sends message to his critics
Pogba, who this weekend has spilled the beans on the frustration he has felt this season, was also asked if he had any opinion in general about his army of critics.
“I guess they miss me, I don’t know? I’m not someone that looks at always at Sky News. After the games, when I watch it again I watch the game, not the comments,” said Pogba.
“When you know football, you don’t need someone to tell you what’s happening. Obviously what I hear when people are saying ‘Paul is doing this…Paul…Paul’ I don’t know.
“One day maybe I will meet them [the critics] and ask them because I really want to know why. I am doing my recovery, I can be somewhere else and I hear something but I’m just doing my recovery, you know?’
“If they want to speak they are allowed to speak, it’s their job to speak. I am used to it now. I am really used to it, it doesn’t bother me. It’s good to hear good stuff instead of bad stuff but when you play football, you know yourself. It’s what your manager and team-mates want, the rest is just talk. It’s selling stuff I think.”