As the final of Euro 2016 comes close, so does the opportunity for the man who had been tipped to become the star of the tournament. Paul Pogba may not have lit up the Euros but he certainly has played his part in France’s journey to Parc de Princes on Sunday.
Will Paul Pogba justify his £100 million tag?
While much of the talk has surrounded Ronaldo and his shot at ultimate glory and delivering Portugal its first major trophy, Pogba would be itching to steal the limelight from the Real Madrid attacker on Sunday.
A Rescue akin to Juve 2016-17?
The tournament may have some parallels with Pogba’s club Juventus. Taking on the legendary No 10 shirt, Pogba struggled initially. Called by his club coach Massimiliano Allegri to play his natural game just has his national team trainer Didier Deschamps has similarly urged, he found his feet as the club’s camping progressed. His form in this tournament has followed the same path. After his listless display against Romania, he was benched in the subsequent game. He came on as a sub and made a difference for his side. In the games after that, he has slowly progressed and has looked more and more assured. It’s his these displays that give encouragement to the speculation that the final may be his stage to pull off his best act yet. He has the potential to make a difference for his team, be it club and country. His return to the style of play is the one which has seen his price soar to 120 million euros.
With Griezmann being eagerly looked upon by his countrymen to fire them to glory, the very fact can either aide Pogba to put in a memorable performance or to implode via jealousy. The latter looks very unlikely. Pogba may be an ambitious player but he is also a man who thoroughly enjoys his teammates’ successes too. When Paulo Dybala was firing the Turin based side to their fifth consecutive Serie A title, Pogba was there to assist and celebrate his teammate’s goals. Thus, it would be the former option. And that looks very likely. The midfielder would be looking to have a say in the game, to make a killer pass for his teammates or to fire a super volley into the net. Either way, the French would be pleased. His coach has tried his best to shield the youngster from the undue media pressure that has been laid on him prior to the tournament. People forget that he is only 23 years old and it’s only his quality that has heightened the expectations around him.
Undue Pressure: From Outside as well as from within
A measure of his confidence can be found from his statements that the Frenchmen makes on a monthly basis. The taking of No 10 shirt was a statement of his desire to go down in the Turin folklore, to be held in the same high esteem as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero. He did manage to pull off an impressive campaign, but one which was not without its fair share of adversities which were largely of his own making. Similarly, the declaration of his desire to emulate Maradona and Pele, to become a legend haven’t won him any favors. His representative, the notorious Super-agent Mino Raiola hasn’t been much of a comfort too. His claims of Pogba being worthy of the hefty price tag being discussed has only served to heighten expectations in his homeland and increasing the previous pressure that has been hampering him. The two experiences, one therefore believes, would go a long way in helping him keep a calm head on his shoulders in the years to come and fulfill the predictions of achieving personal milestones that has talent has suggested till now.
18 years ago, another Frenchmen, the legendary Zidane had his say in his team’s fortunes and led them to European glory on home soil. If Pogba manages to achieve a similar feat, all the comparisons of him with the Real Madrid coach would completely hold water.