The beauty of Paul Pogba

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Valerio Pennicino/Getty ImagesPaul Pogba: Wants to be the next Andrea Pirlo

Making clearance after clearance, Udinese had erected a defensive wall that effectively closed down the gaps to limit the penetration of their opponents. Frustration was the logical emotion for a player eager to pierce through. But, after masterfully controlling the ball, a quick-fire shot from 31 metres out left the boot at 101km per hour and broke the deadlock for Juventus.

"We have come this far, we have come all this way to see Pogba score," roared the Juventus fans in the stadium chanting the players name as they revelled in the beauty of the goal. The second proved equally as entertaining as Paul Pogba shot from 29 metres out at 98km per hour.

Combining humility with a hint of arrogance, Pogba is the definition of promise and player whose mesmeric displays have captivated onlookers and attracted worldwide praise.

"I just wanted Juventus, where great French players had played. Platini, Zidane and Deschamps. I'm here to score goals and win." Pogba really did only want Juventus. But it was not because of what his idols had achieved with the club, but because of a certain Antonio Conte.

At a time when Marco Verratti was making waves in Serie B and attracting the attention of all those who had eyes, Pogba had enchanted the Juventus management. Conte believed in him and in April took the time to visit the midfielder to explain the Juventus project. Armed with visual aids, videos and his own personal footballing notes, Conte used the power of his communication skills to lure the youngster away from Manchester United.

During an impassioned speech on the philosophy of his Juve side, Pogba was told what he would achieve under the tutelage of the young coach. The tactics, the position and the ambitions Juventus had for the player where explained in a manner that seduced the Frenchman into an immediate yes. Black and white only for him.

Born in Lagny-sur-Marne, the family that had emigrated from Guinea quickly realised the potential of their son and scouted football clubs to find a suitable place for their 7-years-old son. Initially played as a number 9, the player's physique and athletic ability were immediately apparent despite his young age.

Despite the separation of his parents and the family's poor finances, success was of the utmost importance to the youngest member of the Pogba household. He chased glory and he had the strength of mind to overcome whatever obstacle was placed in front of him, crediting his father for his infamous winning mentality and his mother, who follows him everywhere, for being the player he is today.

"My father always wants to be the best. Even if one day I win the Ballon d'Or, he'd say no, it ought to be five." Satisfaction is not a word Pogba's father is familiar with. Ambition is of the utmost importance. As long as one has the capability to achieve then nothing should stop one from aiming high. It is precisely this mentality that allows the youngster to cope with the pressure - the same youngster who chose to accept the number 6 shirt once worn by the legendary Gaetano Scirea.

And what are Pogba's dreams? "My goal is to take [Andrea] Pirlo's place. Whilst we all need him and he is the master of Juventus, I want to show that when Pirlo goes and I play, that there will be no difference."

Having confessed a slight obsession with Pirlo's ability and Claudio Marchisio's strength, in essence Pogba is a perfect combination of Juve's midfield maestros and a tad reminiscent of a certain Patrick Viera. Well versed tactically, his outstanding vision allows him to pick out perfect passes, whilst his excellent timing permits him to make perfect runs to latch on to through-balls and convert. He is physically strong, blessed with two perfect feet and tactically intelligent. Constantly aware of his position and eager to make the right runs, under Conte he has also learned the notion of sacrifice.

But perhaps nothing is more beautiful to watch than the player's Cruyff-style turns on the ball and his ability to score powerful screamers from a distance. And whilst his physical abilities are clear to see, it's important to note that for Juve chiefs Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici, what a player contributes off the field is just as important.

"Even in the dressing room, he was a pivotal character bringing joy and harmony to the side," explained Alberto Massacci, the Modena defender who grew up with Pogba at Manchester United.

As Juventus awaited the bus to go home after the loss to Milan in the San Siro in November, Pogba stood motionless, obviously affected by the defeat. As team-mates chatted around him, he looked deep in thought, managing only sporadic smiles when one of the older players nodded in his direction. "He's not used to losing," smiled Pirlo. No, neither are the Juventus fans and perhaps that is why Pogba belongs with the Old Lady.

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