Paul Pogba

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How to stop Alexis? “Padlock, tie him up,” says Sevilla boss

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“Well, maybe we can lock him up with a padlock or tie him up with rope.”

Vincenzo Montella has mixed it up with Alexis Sanchez in the past, and he’s not relishing the need to stop him again without using non-traditional means.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

The Sevilla boss, 43, said he “remembered well” the Manchester United star from the Chilean’s playing time at Udinese,.

“He has improved his style a lot during his career and I think he can be a really good player in transition,” Montella said. “I think they have really good speed in attack.”

That padlock joke wasn’t the only quality quip from Montella, who said of Paul Pogba:

“He is a complete player. I hope he doesn’t play.”

Sevilla hosts United at 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

Scholes: Pogba didn’t earn Man United spot in 2012 before Juve stint

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Paul Pogba‘s young career has been bright, but a former Manchester United legend suggests that there was a time where the Frenchman struggled to find his way at Old Trafford.

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The 24-year-old Pogba is now in his second stint with the Red Devils, after spending four seasons in Italy with giants Juventus.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes says though that back in 2012 — prior to Pogba’s move to Juve — that the physical player wasn’t pleased with the fact that he wasn’t getting regular minutes with the first team.

“Ferguson wanted me initially to come back and coach the reserve team with Warren Joyce,” he told BT Sport. “I said in September I’d come back. So I started helping Joycey, and I was training with the reserves.

“I was training every day with the likes of Pogba, Lingard, all these types of players. They were a really good side and I was really enjoying training. I was getting fit, I felt great, and it got to December time and the team was struggling a bit.

“They had a load of injuries, no central midfield players were fit. They ended up playing Phil Jones and Fabio da Silva in central midfield in a game against Blackburn at Old Trafford.

“Funnily enough that was the end of Pogba, because he thought he should have been playing instead of them. But he wasn’t doing well enough.”

Scholes, who had retired briefly in 2011, came back after just six months for the Red Devils, and ended up playing a year-and-a-half more following the decision to end his playing career.

It is widely believed that Pogba’s decision to head to Juventus was largely due to the impact of Scholes in the United squad.

Mourinho denies reports of Pogba exit from Man United

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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.

Mourinho explains Pogba substitution: Wanted “simplicity”

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Jose Mourinho said there were no fitness concerns with Paul Pogba when he hauled the Manchester United midfielder off after 65 minutes of a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 1-0 Man Utd ]

Michael Carrick was waiting to come on for Pogba lost his mark and Newcastle scored its goal. Mourinho still made the move.

Here’s Mourinho’s explanation:

“I wanted a better way to come out in the first phase against a team that was defending in a very compact block,” Mourinho said on NBCSN.

“I was trying that with the simplicity of Michael Carrick because he tries to make everything simple and bring Alexis in an area close to Lukaku where he can be like a second striker. I was unlucky because they scored a goal in the seconds after, and then I’m going to face a different Newcastle where in that moment the only thing they think is defend.”

That’s all well and good, but the fact that Mourinho still took Pogba off following the goal shows this was more about a point then, well, a point on the table.

The telling word is simplicity. Pogba is one of the most creative forces in the world, a genuine artist. At times, that’s frustrating for Mourinho, whether deserved consternation or not.

This will play out in the manager’s favor, so Pogba is going to have to find a happy medium. That may sound crazy considering Pogba is one of the world’s best, but United is again a manager’s club under Mourinho.

Mourinho hits back at critics claiming he misuses Pogba

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Jose Mourinho wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t have to constantly respond to critics, thus it’s a good great thing the Manchester United manager is a world-class talent when it comes to creating and feeding those who oppose him.

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Mourinho’s use misuse, according to just about anyone who’s watch Man United this season, of Paul Pogba has been a regular source of criticism, one about which Mourinho has finally heard enough and elected to speak out.

Following his 63rd-minute substitution in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago (his first failure to complete the full 90 minutes since returning to Old Trafford two summers ago), Pogba was dropped to the bench for last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield. As far as Mourinho’s concerned, there’s no issue whatsoever being player and manager; between manager and media, however, it’s a very different story — quotes from the Guardian:

“Paul had a very professional behavior. The week was not different to what Paul is every week. He works well, he’s a good professional, he likes to train. I’ve never had a single problem with him.

“When people ask his best position: he’s a midfield player. It depends on the tactical system but he will always be a midfielder. Then with so many opinions, and we are in a world of opinions, people can get confused. There is no confusion between me and Paul. It’s difficult to play a midfielder with more potential than Paul.

“In relation to his best position, I had a few laughs over the past week because I heard, I watched, had a chance to read a few things and I’m not English, but I understand English enough to understand what I want to say with ‘box to box.’

“But with some comments from important people in football, I got a little bit confused because, for me, box-to-box means that you have to defend well in this box, you must have the physical , the desire, the intensity, the stamina condition to go to the other box and be good scoring, creating, heading, so on.

“This week I was confused when people say ‘box to box’; to play free of defensive duties, that’s not box to box. When people say what’s his best position for Paul to play: Paul is a midfield player.”

Mourinho is right in saying this is “a world of opinions,” so here’s one more on Pogba and his best position: he is being misused by Mourinho; he’s not a box-to-box midfielder; he’s a roaming playmaker who requires ample defensive protection from his midfield partner(s); he’s also playing in a league now, as opposed to his time at Juventus, where he became a $116-million player, where (at least) half of the midfielders possess many of the same physical and athletic traits that, while being a supremely talented player both technically and tactically, oftentimes set him apart from the competition.