Everyone expected Sir Alex Ferguson’s priorities in the transfer market to be replacements for Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes. David De Gea was duly acquired from Atletico Madrid to fill the No 1 jersey, but the vacancy at the heart of the midfield still exists, or does it?
Despite persistent speculation that Manchester United are ‘close to’ or ‘on the verge of’ signing Wesley Sneijder from Inter, Ferguson has refuted the interest on several occasions throughout the summer. It may well prove that the future of Manchester United’s engine room and reason for Ferguson’s reluctance to splash the cash may be a current resident of their academy and reserve sides.
A product of the same Le Havre academy as Charles N’Zogbia, Pogba arrived at Manchester United in 2009 when Ferguson headed to Paris to meet with his parents at their family home, stealing a march on Arsenal and Chelsea in the process. His first season in United’s academy saw Pogba make a big impact, scoring seven goals in 22 appearances, turning out a further five times for the reserves. A knee injury sustained on international duty with the French U-17 side disrupted Pogba’s progress last season, resulting in him accompanying Wayne Rooney to Detroit for mid-season fitness training.
Handed a squad number and a place on the bench for the fifth round FA Cup tie with Crawley Town, where he was an unused sub, the 6ft 2in youngster could be on the verge of a breakthrough season at Old Trafford. Lanky with a sledgehammer shot from distance, Pogba is developing in to a box-to-box midfielder with excellent close control and a calmness in possession. Confident in his own abilities, he dictates play and dominates central midfield with a keen eye for a through ball. His stamina and build is still developing, as is his match intelligence and positioning, but his progress thus far has been rapid and looks set to continue.
With financial fair play approaching, Ferguson will be keen to bring through their academy prospects, where in the past the likes of Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi showed great promise in the United ranks but only realised that potential by moving away. With the return from loan of Tom Cleverley, the return from injury of Darren Fletcher and the emergence of Paul Pogba, the services of Sneijder and the like may not be currently required.