It’s no secret. Paul Pogba is not playing at his best level right now.
The Frenchman’s recent form for Manchester United has been below his early-season standard, as well as the expectations around Pogba, and he’s certainly struggled in defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle in the last few weeks.
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But despite the dip in form, manager Jose Mourinho harshly ruled out reports on Friday that stated Pogba could leave Old Trafford this summer, calling them outright lies.
“I think you are nice with your words, because when you say ‘a lot of speculation’, you should say a lot of lies because I accept – and I can speak on Paul’s behalf without any problems – and Paul accepts that he’s not being playing well in the last few matches,” Mourinho said in a press conference. “But that’s all and if you want to speak about it, then that’s one thing and then your word ‘speculation’ makes a little bit of sense. But the majority of the things that you can read and you can listen – don’t be nice, be objective and say lies.”
Mourinho gave a little insight into Pogba’s struggles this season. The 24-year-old midfielder suffered a serious thigh injury in September that kept him out until November, forcing him to miss 12 Man United games. According to Mourinho, the injury was similar to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele, who underwent surgery to fix the issue.
“Look – he had a big injury in the season,” Mourinho said. “A big injury. He had a big injury. He almost went to surgery like [Ousmane] Dembele at Barcelona had, with a very similar injury. The decision was not to do it [surgery] and to go with conservative treatment which went very, very well. Everybody was happy with the way things went.
“He was playing phenomenal before that, he played phenomenal after that. He had a red card against Arsenal, probably in his best match of the season and in his and the team’s best moment. He was out for a long, long time and, in this moment, he’s not playing well. Period.
“The team needs him at a good level and, when he’s not at a good level, the team is not as good as the team is when he plays phenomenal. I think it happens with every team when the best players, the most crucial players, for some reason are not performing. Period.”
There’s no doubt that Man United needs Pogba to be playing his best for the club to make it deep in the UEFA Champions League and to keep their place in the top two of the Premier League. Perhaps the week off from the Premier League can help get Pogba’s mind right for the backstretch of the season.