Paul Pogba: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo created 'obsession' with goalscorers

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Three years on from Paul Pogba’s £89 million return to Manchester United and there’s still debate over whether he was worth the hype.

The France international has been a frequent subject of stinging criticism due to his actions - and occasionally lack thereof - both on and off the pitch.

Furthermore, the scrutiny of Pogba has been made even harsher by the Red Devils’ failure to mount any serious challenge for the Premier League.

While there are certainly grounds to argue he could’ve and could be doing more for the United cause, his contribution hasn’t been as insignificant as some make out.

Looking at goals alone, Pogba has excelled this season.

The former Juventus star has scored 13 times in the Premier League - the joint-best tally of any midfielder in the competition alongside Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.

It’s his personal best return for a single campaign, even without the three others he registered in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

Pogba has made no secret of his disinterest towards his critics, yet admits there’s a telling reason behind their point-of-view.

The 26-year-old believes the outrageous feats of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have led fans to expect players to regularly find the net, even if it’s not their primary job.


Speaking to ICON Magazine, per AS, Pogba said: “Football has changed a lot. I grew up watching the exploits of great champions, real legends like [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Luis] Figo, [Francesco] Totti and many others.

“All have been champions, the best in the world, but perhaps many of them did not achieve more than 20 goals per season.

“Now the data, the statistics, the numbers, often seem to have become the only parameter of judgment.

“That, on the one hand, is good, it is part of the evolution of modern football and the desire to play the ball more and more. But we often tend to forget how difficult it has always been to score more than 20 goals, even for the big players.

“And today perhaps even more so, because the distance between the teams of high level has been reduced, especially in big competitions. 

“Messi and Ronaldo have shown in recent years: doing what they did, maintaining those stats - that is the exception, not the norm.”

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Pogba added: “If an attacker today scores ten or 15 goals, he is likely to be told that it is not enough. But the player's work must be judged with perspective.

“You have to remember that someone like Pavel Nedved won the Ballon d’Or without his team winning the Champions League or without having scored much himself. He was simply the best in his role and was rewarded for what he was capable of doing on the field.”

Pogba raises an important point in that there’s an emphasis on goalscoring in the modern game.

However, it’s also worth noting Luka Modric won the 2018 Ballon d’Or with just four goals to his name for Real Madrid and Croatia.

Goals win matches, but should they be the measure of every player?

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