The next big things and the players to look for
Down the years Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United have endured many a battle against a tall and powerful French midfielder. But now, Fergie's got one of his own.
Step forward Paul Pogba, a 18-year-old with all the qualities of a young Patrick Vieira, and arguably a few more. Having been plucked from near obscurity at Ligue 2's Le Havre, Pogba looks set for a bright future under Ferguson's tutelage.
The youngster arrived at Old Trafford in 2009, amid a spat with parent club Le Havre. The French side cried foul over the transfer, suggesting The Red Devils had broken a pre-contract agreement in signing elsewhere. United rallied, claiming that the agreement did not prevent clubs from outside France from signing the player. After nearly a year of wrangling the two clubs finally reached an agreement.
The exciting box-to-box midfielder made his debut for Manchester United's Under 18's in October of 2009, and it very quickly became apparent why Manchester United had fought so hard to push the transfer through, despite any possible damage it could do to their reputation. Pogba's powerful, energetic, yet stylish approach to the game make him a perfect fit for English football.
The first thing you notice about the Frenchman is his physique. Pogba is comfortably over six foot and boasts good upper body strength, and a long stride. Yet far from being a big languid unit in the middle of the park, he has a swagger in possession, and is not afraid to dribble, run at defenders or shoot from range.
It was the step up into United's Reserve team where that latter quality was really shown off, when he scored a notable screamer from all of 30 yards against Portsmouth Reserves. The goal impressed all watching, including Sir Alex Ferguson. It's a feat he's repeated a number of occasions, including at international level with France, for whom he is a current Under 19 international.
This season has been another of steady development for Pogba. He has been named in a number of first-team squads, and that will become a more regular occurrence if he continues to work hard at developing his game. The perfect way to show he's on track for a first-team role is to do what United do best - win trophies. Pogba is set to play a key role in the upcoming FA Youth Cup Final against Sheffield United, having previously turned in solid displays in the previous rounds, most notably against Chelsea in the semi-final.
Many fans and pundits have speculated that Ferguson may reshuffle his midfield this summer, introducing some fresh blood to act as competition to the likes of Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson and Anderson. Paul Pogba will hope to be at the fore-front of those plans, as a new wave of impressive United youngsters make their push for the first-team.
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