Jose Mourinho has insisted that Paul Pogba can challenge for the Ballon d’Or at Manchester United.
The midfielder, who arrived over the summer after signing for a world record £89m fee, endured a rocky start to life at Old Trafford.
But Pogba, buoyed by the presence of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick in midfield, has quickly morphed into a truly fundamental asset under Mourinho – illustrated most recently by a sumptuous performance during Man United’s 3-1 win over Sunderland.
Mourinho, speaking after the win over David Moyes’ side, claimed that Pogba has what it takes to challenge for football’s most prestigious individual award.
“If the perception changes, Paul can win it because Paul is not a goal-scorer, Paul is a midfielder,” he said.
“That will score more and more goals. Because I think he has conditions to score goals. But Paul is a midfield player. In my opinion, the best. The best midfield player in the world.”
“Obviously young. Needs to improve. Wants to improve, which is even better. Has an agent who in my opinion is great for the player because he is not a typical agent who puts the player in the moon. He demands a lot from the player.
“He wants the player to be better and better all the time. So I think he has everything around him to be a great player. The Premier League is very difficult.
“You play three or four years in Italy, you arrive in the Premier League and the world is completely different. And he is doing well, he is doing more than well. His evolution is clear. So I can imagine next season for Paul will be top.”
Think Pogba has got what it takes to win the fabled Ballon d’Or in the future? See if you can check out some odds using our Unibet bonus code. That being said, the competition as a whole ought to be taken with a pinch of salt: this year, for example, Dimitri Payet was shortlisted and Mesut Ozil was left out; only three centre-backs made the list, and the last time a central midfielder claimed the award dates back t0 1998, with Zinedine Zidane triumphing over Davor Suker.
And yet, in spite of the numerous embedded faults of the Ballon d’Or award system (and FIFA as an organisation in general), nobody could ever rule out the Frenchman. He forms the heart of United’s aggressive impetus going forward, regularly displaying his superb passing range, strength and technical ability. And at just 23, United fans – and indeed those in charge of determining the Ballon d’Or winner – will know that there is even more to come from the midfielder.