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'The potential to be one of the best' - Graeme Souness changes his view on Paul Pogba and sparks red card debate

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Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images

Graeme Souness has been an outspoken critic of Paul Pogba since his £89m move to Manchester United in the summer of 2016, but he changed his tune on the France midfielder after witnessing his display against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday.

Former Liverpool skipper Souness has not held back in is criticism of Pogba in recent years, as he has constantly suggested the World Cup winner lacks the discipline to become a top midfielder.

Yet he was constructive in his praise of Pogba after he played a key role in United's 1-0 win against Spurs, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer extended his winner run at the start of his reign as the club's interim manager to six matches.

"For two years I've been saying the same thing," Souness told Sky Sports. "When I look at a game of football, I look at the midfielder first and if it's a really good one, I'll go 'would I like to have played against them?'

"I would not like to have played against him, doing what he did in the first half, what he did in the first half against Bournemouth (last month). I don't want him running into my box and me having to track him.

"He has athleticism to arrive in the box late, get lots of goals that way, and get well into double figures every year, and that would be an enormous asset for United.

"What he isn't, and what he's tried to be in his time at United, like he's said there; 'I've got license to go forward', he's playing in a three. He's playing on the left of a three. That gives you license to the midfielders to go the minute the ball goes down the right or the left or in the middle and get in the box.

"I think he sees himself, having spent time with (Andrea) Pirlo in Turin, as someone who wants to sit deep and play Hollywood balls. And the reason I say that, he's capable of that, but he hasn't got a sixth sense a good defensive midfield player has, standing still on occasion, filling areas on occasion, and not being attracted to the ball on occasion.

"Going back to the Bournemouth game, in the first half he was sensational, he arrived late got a leg out a tapped the first one in, and arrived late with a header.

"What did he do in the second half? He reverted to type, where he sat deep and tried to spray it and five, six times the ball went out of play. He wanted to be that type of 'Pirlo' player. And he has the potential to be one of the very best out there."

While Souness appears to have warmed to Pogba's abilities now that he is no longer working under the management of Jose Mourinho, he went on to suggest the United No.6 was fortune to escape with just a yellow card after an 'over-the-top' challenge on Dele Alli on Sunday.

"I think it's a red card," added Souness. "And there's not one ounce of doubt in my mind. He knew what he was doing. You step over it, you use your strength to keep the player away, but look where the ball is, look where the foot is.

"If that referee doesn't see that as a red card, he sees it as a foul, he sees it as a yellow card, then he knows nothing about football, the referee. There wasn't one ounce of doubt in my mind he’s gone over the ball to do him."

Online Editors