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Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has insisted he holds no regret over his decision to turn down a move to Real Madrid in 2016 in favour of a return to Old Trafford.
The Frenchman made the switch from Juventus to the Red Devils for a world-record fee, with a number of clubs, including Los Blancos, said to be keen on bringing him in. Speaking about the decision on Beyond the Pitch (h/t Robert Summerscales of the MailOnline), Pogba said he’s delighted to be back at United for a second stint.
“To be honest, Real Madrid came to me and I was thinking to go there, and I was thinking to go to Manchester United too,” he said. “But I always felt it in my heart. My heart told me to come back here, I don’t know why, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I did it, and I don’t regret. I never regret my choice.”
Pogba has been divisive figure among supporters since his return to England.
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At Juventus he developed a reputation as one of the best midfielders on the planet, although in 2016-17 he failed to showcase his talent consistently having joined United for a second stint. Pogba clung to possession, made poor choices and was indisciplined in his positioning off the ball too.
While he ended the campaign with two trophy wins—the UEFA Europa League and the League Cup—United supporters were left wanting a little more. This season Pogba has given them that.
Football writer Liam Canning picked up on how crucial Pogba has been for the Red Devils this term and lamented his absence in the recent 2-1 loss to Manchester City:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Every game without Pogba just reinforces how important he is to Manchester United. The over-reliance on him is worrying. José Mourinho has to invest in midfielders.
The midfielder boasts a rare blend of talents. When faced with a deep-sitting opponent, Pogba has the class and composure to unpick defences with his excellent passing range. By contrast, when players try to get in his face, the Frenchman uses his quick feet and physicality to see off challenges.
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It’s no shock that such a multifaceted footballer was targeted by Real Madrid. Pogba would’ve been ideal at the heart of Zinedine Zidane’s midfield, as Los Blancos traditionally play with the attacking dynamism the United man brings to a football team.
As relayed by sports journalist Daniel Harris, United’s record in the Premier League this season without their No. 6 is considerably worse than with him:
Daniel Harris @DanielHarris
United with Pogba: P8 W7 D1 L0 Pts 22 Pts per game 2.75
United without Pogba: P7 W4 D1 L2 Pts 13 Pts per game 1.86 https://t.co/R4pcwDHN1e
Given the respective successes of United and Madrid over the course of recent seasons, it’d only be natural for Pogba to wonder what might’ve been.
While manager Jose Mourinho did well to steer the Red Devils to two trophies last term, Real clinched the UEFA Champions League and the La Liga title. Granted, this season they’ve not been at their best, but Los Blancos have been crowned kings of Europe in three of the last four years.
United supporters will be keen to see their side scale those heights in the future, as they did under former boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Pogba, who failed to make his mark under the legendary manager, is going to be vital in any potential ascent.