'If Mourinho had come two years after I’d left United in 2012, maybe I wouldn’t have signed' - Pogba
Paul Pogba has admitted the presence of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United is one of the primary reasons why he made a return to Old Trafford this summer.
In an interview with Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry, the midfielder who became the most expensive player in football history when he sealed his £89m move from Juventus earlier this month, opened up on the reasons why he decided the time was right to return to United.
Pogba is set to make his second United debut in Friday night’s Premier League game against Southampton at Old Trafford and he admitted the appointment of Mourinho as the club’s manager this summer is one of the primary reasons why he is back in Manchester.
“He helped with things,” Pogba told Henry in an interview that will be broadcast prior to the Southampton game. “You see a big coach like him, who has done a lot and has won everything, and when he comes here, takes the players and wants to go back to winning.
“I played four years in Italy, if he’d come two years after I’d left (United in 2012), maybe I wouldn’t have come, I would have stayed at Juve. I think it was the right time for him to come, and for me to come back.”
Pogba went on to suggest he felt ready to play in the Premier League less than two weeks after arriving at United following his extended holiday in America, with Mourinho confirming on Thursday that he would play some part in the Southampton match.
“I came here and trained hard. They made me train alone because I didn’t play the first game,” he said. “They made me run, and I really like this because I’m used to this at Juve.
“Physically and mentally I feel great. The training has been good. I’ve touched the ball a lot too, I wasn’t used to this anymore. The training is perfect.”
Mourinho claimed Pogba was content in his role as the world’s most costly player, as he predicted the Frenchman was ready to join the game’s best as he prepares to return to the Premier League stage.
“I see him very calm, I see him very comfortable in this role of a star player and feeling very well under that skin,” stated the United manager.
“I don’t see him under pressure, I don’t see him in training trying to do things to show that he’s different, to show that he’s better.
“I think his impact will be something very natural, a progressive impact of contribution to improve the team, because that’s what he’s here for - to win trophies.
“I’m not expecting, the first time he touches the ball, to dribble past five guys and score a wonder goal. I expect the first time he touches the ball to make a correct pass, a good selection of passing, a good choice, a good simple execution and a fluid game.”
Mourinho stated on Thursday that Pogba may already be the best midfielder in world football, but he admitted he may struggle to win awards like FIFA’s Ballon d’Or as they tend to be handed out to goal scorers.
“Can Paul score Ronaldo and Messi’s goals?” questioned Mourinho. “Not even 25 per cent, I believe. I believe he cannot score 20 goals in a season.
“So if to be the best player in the world means to score a lot of goals, that’s not the point. But he’s one of the best midfield players, maybe I could say the best midfield player, in the world.
“When you speak about the best players in the world, you go immediately to the ones that score a lot of goals.
“You don’t give a golden ball (Ballon d’Or) to a goalkeeper. You gave it to (centre-back Fabio) Cannavaro once, because in that season he was the captain of Italy, the world champions.
“(Paolo) Maldini never got a gold ball. (Javier) Zanetti never got a gold ball. Top goalkeepers, over history, didn’t get a gold ball. You look immediately to the ones that score a lot of goals.