Paul Pogba has surprisingly included Arsenal injury flop Abou Diaby in a list of midfielders better than he is.
Pogba has shown inconsistent form and received heavy criticism on a number of occasions since returning to Manchester United for a then-world record fee of £89m in 2016 after four years at Serie A giants Juventus.
However, many wouldn’t have thought he’d place himself below a player who featured just 180 times between 2006 and 2015 at the Emirates Stadium before moving to France and playing just six times in two years for Marseille due to a repetition of injury problems.
As part of a quiz for Canal+, Pogba was asked to name midfielders better than he is: “[Andres] Iniesta, he’s had an exceptional career. [Luka] Modric, [Toni] Kroos, David Silva, [Kevin] De Bruyne, Yaya Toure, even Abou Diaby. Box-to-box, he was exceptional but unfortunately he had a lot of injuries.”
On his admiration for Diaby, he added: “Look at him when he was he was at Arsenal – he was exceptional. People forget about him. In the France team, he was enormous. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I won’t forget him, I learned a lot from him.”
Pogba made a terrific start to the 2017-18 season and was thriving as the heart of the team, who were putting four past teams left right and centre, before suffering a thigh rupture in a Champions League group game against CSKA Moscow in September.
He came back in mid-November and struggled to find his stride while being dropped for young talent Scott McTominay in big games like at Sevilla in the Round of 16, which led to reports that he fell out with manager Jose Mourinho and was at risk of being sold in the summer.
It looks like he will be a United player next season though so he will be hoping for a strong World Cup campaign with France before his strongest season yet at Old Trafford.