THE £89 million man, Paul Pogba, admits he’s confident that he can be the man to finally fill the “chasm” left by Jonny Evans’ departure last year. The former Man United youth team player, completed his world record transfer back to the club on Monday and says his former teammate was the first person to congratulate him, texting: “You’re ready Paul. Now it’s your turn.”
Pogba appeared delighted to be back at Old Trafford but warned United fans to not expect him to instantly replace the talismanic former number 6. “For me, it is an honour and a privilege to be the man selected to follow in the footsteps of the greats like Evans and Brown,” he told MUTV. “With a lot of hard work, I hope to one day do the jersey proud.”
Despite largely being a central defender, Pogba claims Evans was “instrumental” to his development at Old Trafford, with “the Irish Beckenbauer” regularly pulling the Frenchman aside to give him a few pointers. “His advice made me the player I was at United and is probably why my form suffered so much when I went to Juventus.”
Pogba claims he had to leave Old Trafford if he was to ever get out from under the Northern Ireland legend’s shadow. “I knew I had to go, to try and be my own man,” he said. “But now I’m back and I feel ready to accept the enormous responsibility of taking his jersey.”
While in Italy, the french international remained fiercely loyal to Evans, and defended him when he was controversially overlooked for the Ballon d’Or for the 13th year in a row, a decision Pogba described at the time as, “a fucking travesty”.
He also highlighted the sizeable gap left by his role model’s unexpected departure but understands his reasons. “Of course losing a player like Jonny is a huge loss, but when West Bromwich Albion come calling, you don’t exactly say no. The opportunity to work with Tony Pulis is a once in a lifetime.”
Many sections of the media suggest the pressure of the jersey could be too much for Pogba, a point not lost on the 4-time Serie A winner. “Yes, I said to the club ‘are you sure you don’t want to just retire the number 6? I can always just take 11’.”
Instead, he replaces his hero but the 23-year-old is hopeful their paths might cross again someday. “I’m not getting ahead of myself. Of course it’s every footballer’s dream to play every week at the Hawthorns, and to live in Birmingham. But right now I’m just focused on United. One step at a time…”