Rio Ferdinand was around to watch Paul Pogba leave Manchester United four years ago.
The former England defender had just completed his 10th season at Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson allowed a 19-year-old Pogba to walk out of the door, the midfielder having become frustrated with a lack of opportunities.
As Pogba prepares to the rejoin the club in a deal that will see him become the most expensive player in history, Ferdinand has given his thoughts on the Frenchman’s sensational return.
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Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles during his time at United, has revealed what he told Pogba when he left the Red Devils in 2012 in a lengthy Facebook post.
The 37-year-old also discussed his first impressions of the midfielder and what he expects from the £93.2 million man under Jose Mourinho.
Building around Pogba
“Man Utd need to build around a group of young hungry players like [Anthony] Martial, [Jesse] Lingard, [Marcus] Rashford and Pogba is the one to lead that group from the front - the only way he would want it.”
“From the first moment he came through the doors of the treatment room (where players got strappings before training) I sensed there was something different about the kid,” Ferdinand wrote.
"He was a tall gangly teenager (similar to myself at the same age) but he had a confident swagger in the way he carried himself, one of a nice determined confidence.
“With very little time of him being there, the young players who had trained with him and the coaches were raving about the ability and maturity he possessed.
“So I took a keen interest in watching him along with the ridiculously talented Ravel Morrison.
“His stature on the pitch made him immediately stand out, but he passed gracefully over all distances and had feet like a ballerina with a ball at his feet & he could score goals from outside the box too."
“I remember going over to watch a group of the youth team players training and thought they weren’t training in a complete professional manor and saw Paul, Ravel & Januzai all sat down chatting as everyone was going inside so I strolled over and got stuck into them a bit, asking "do you guys want to be top players, do you think switching on your efforts in training on & off are going to make the manager think you should be with the first team"?
“They all could see the wrongs in their behaviour but I remember Paul saying he should be there with the first team anyway! That confidence in his own ability stood out above everything for me.”
Paul Scholes toughened him up
“Once he got over with the first team on a regular basis I remember Scholesy hacking him to the floor almost every session and Paul looking around as if to say what is this... It toughened him up I’m sure but also showed us he was brave and didn’t shirk that other side of the game - his ability wasn’t questioned by anyone of the first team... it's a young players temperament that the senior players and coaches wonder about with the kids stepping up - Paul had it.”
What Pogba said when he left
“We all know that he was allowed (reluctantly) to leave for Juventus but before he went, I stopped him in the corridor at Carrington and started to tell him he is making a mistake going there "the Italian league is weaker, the stadiums aren’t full" etc, anything to deter him but he said the deal had been done.
“I finished by saying "what do you want to be man, a top player at the best club or what"?? Paul looked at me calmly and replied "The best player in the world". I walked off stunned, not I want a chance, I need games... this boy was thinking way beyond that!
“There it was again, that inner confidence oozing from him. Fast forward to now and he is en route (still a way to go to get to there) but well on his way & with the platform of Old Trafford he has a real opportunity to be the next Man Utd player after Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned the best player in the world.”