Footy Times

Pogba’s Paradox: The Enigmatic Midfielder Lost in a Maze of Scandal

0 226

The name Paul Pogba once conjured images of midfield artistry. His towering presence commanded the pitch, his passes splitting defences with surgical precision. His long-range shots rippled nets, sending stadiums into ecstasy. A World Cup winner with France, his career seemed destined for legendary status. But now, a doping ban, a bizarre web of family feuds, and extortion allegations cast a dark shadow over his accomplishments.

Pogba’s rise to stardom was nothing short of meteoric. His first stint at Juventus saw him become a dominant force, racking up four Serie A titles and establishing himself as one of the world’s premier midfielders. His 23 goals and 23 assists during that period demonstrated his attacking threat alongside his playmaking prowess. Yet, even amidst his success in Turin, signs of inconsistency began to emerge. While capable of breathtaking brilliance, there were matches where his influence seemed to vanish.

Pogba ban
TURIN, ITALY – MAY 11: Paul Pogba of Juventus celebrates with teammates following the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg match between Juventus and Sevilla FC at Allianz Stadium on May 11, 2023 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

In 2016, Manchester United brought Pogba back in a record-breaking deal of over $100 million, expecting him to be the catalyst for a new era of dominance. While flashes of his brilliance were undeniable, particularly in the 2018-19 season with 13 goals and nine assists, Pogba and United struggled to find consistency. Underwhelming team performances coincided with periods of individual brilliance, highlighting his enigmatic nature. Fans grew frustrated at his tendency to fade in and out of matches, leaving a sense of unfulfilled potential.

Injuries were a constant hurdle for Pogba at United. He reached 2500 minutes in the Premier League only twice in six seasons, with frequent lengthy absences. Questions arose about the duration of his recoveries and whether there was a deeper mental struggle impacting his ability to remain consistently fit. His final image at Old Trafford was a red card during a 5-0 thrashing by rivals Liverpool – a bitter encapsulation of United’s woes and his own fading star.

With France, Pogba’s fortunes followed a similar pattern. Early promise at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 hinted at something exceptional, but there was an underlying sense that he still hadn’t reached his full potential with the national team. His peak came in 2018 when he bossed the midfield throughout France’s World Cup-winning campaign. Surrounded by the dynamism of N’Golo Kante, the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe, and Antoine Griezmann’s peak form, Pogba thrived. However, he couldn’t prevent France’s infighting and shock elimination from Euro 2021, once again underlining the inconsistencies plaguing his career.

Like Mesut Özil, another midfield maestro who faced accusations of inconsistency and a lack of effort, Pogba found himself increasingly sidelined from his national team. Both Pogba and Özil exemplify the perils of unfulfilled potential, where immense talent is ultimately overshadowed by questions about mentality and focus.

Pogba’s return to Juventus in 2022 seemed a chance at redemption, but it turned into another chapter of disappointment. The news of his positive test for testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance, sent shockwaves through the football world. Pogba vehemently denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. However, the scandal casts a dark shadow over his legacy and raises questions about the extent of doping in sport.

The timing of these setbacks compounded the difficulties Pogba faced. The loss of his long-term agent, the controversial but influential Mino Raiola, in April 2022 undoubtedly took a toll on the French midfielder. Raiola played a significant role in Pogba’s career moves and contract negotiations, and his absence likely contributed to a sense of instability and mental strain during an already turbulent period.

French national team coach Didier Deschamps understood Pogba’s difficult situation despite the controversy: “I’ve spoken to him. Psychologically, it’s hard. The ruling was tough; he filed an appeal, so there will be another judgment. He is going to defend himself with all his strength. I don’t like to be definite about the future. Above all, I hope he can regain the pleasure of playing on the field and then find the France national team again.”

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri expressed shock and disappointment, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. The consequences for Juventus could be severe, including potential sanctions from UEFA and immense damage to the club’s reputation.

At the heart of the Pogba saga lies a complex set of questions: was he truly guilty of doping, or was he unknowingly a victim of contamination? If guilty, was it a desperate measure to salvage a fading career? If not guilty, will he ever be able to clear his name and repair the damage done fully? Hopefully, the ongoing appeal process will shed more light on the positive test’s circumstances.

The impact of the scandal and his off-field troubles extends far beyond Pogba himself. French football loses a potential talisman during a crucial period, jeopardizing their Euro 2024 qualification chances. For Juventus, the financial implications are significant.

The most severe impact, however, is on Pogba. A four-year ban at this stage could irreparably damage his career. Even if he successfully appeals, the mental strain of the family scandal, damage to his reputation, and the lost playing time cast deep doubts over his ability to return to the game’s top levels.

The Pogba saga is a cautionary tale about the complexities of fame and the dangers that lurk alongside stardom. It’s a reminder of the immense pressures faced by elite athletes and the fine line between a meteoric rise and a spectacular fall from grace.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More