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Pogba: "I can play up front, behind... depends on the coach"

The Man United midfielder gave an interview to ICON, in which he spoke about his versatility as a player and the importance of attackers who don't score many goals.

La portada de ICON Italia.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, one of Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane’s chief priorities in the summer transfer window, has given an interview to the Italian edition of ICON magazine.

AS understands that Zinedine Zidane has plans to deploy Pogba in a similar role to which he played for Didier Deschamps in last summer’s World Cup in Russia: in the double pivot position with freedom to push forward, or perhaps sitting in front of the double pivot, giving him greater freedom to attack.

And in the ICON interview, the French midfielder spoke about his versatility to play in various positions depending on the preference and ideas of the coach.

"[I can play] on the right, on the left, in front. I don’t really care. I can play behind the attackers, in front of the defence. It depends on the ideas of the coach, the style and the philosophy of the team that I play in,” said Pogba.

“Because we can never forget that football is a team game and if the team works well together, we will all have more fun. Paul here or Paul there: Paul is a midfielder and his task, more than ever, is helping the team do what they set out to do – beyond the obsession with the goal, especially in front of the players of my position. Luckily, I also score goals, but that's not what matters in my case.”

Paul Pogba of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester United.
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Paul Pogba of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester United.Chris Brunskill/FantasistaGetty Images

Pogba: "Football has changed a lot"

Pogba, who has provided 16 goals and 11 assists in 46 games across all competitions for United this season, defended the role of attacking players who don’t score many goals, citing legends of the previous generation and stressing that it is even more difficult to score goals nowadays.

"Football has changed a lot. I grew up watching the exploits of great champions, real legends like Del Piero, Figo, 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,” the 26-year-old pointed out.

“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.

He 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: Diversity is behind my style

The World Cup winner is considered an eccentric figure by many and he attributed his “style” to the fact that he has been influenced and exposed to diverse cultures throughout his life and career.

"I am a black footballer who has played in Italy, in France, in England, and my style is a mixture of the different cultures that I have absorbed and made mine. Life is made up of crossings of colours, encounters with different cultures,” he said.

Paul Pogba celebrating France's World Cup triumph in Russia, after Les Bleus beat Croatia in the final.
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Paul Pogba celebrating France's World Cup triumph in Russia, after Les Bleus beat Croatia in the final.Getty Images

The 26-year-old also drew attention to the diversity of the French national football team and the collective team spirit that helped them to World Cup glory last summer.

"The secret of our football and of France in general is cultural diversity: we are all French, but one is of African origin, one of Spanish origin, another Portuguese, and so on. Every time I meet up with the national team, there are no phenomena, it's a family. There's no star player, there's a collection of great champions, with different cultures, united by a goal, which is something I'm very proud of.”


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