Manchester United‘s record signing Paul Pogba may have faced his critics this season, but there is one key area in which he leads the Premier League rankings.
The Frenchman, who cost the Red Devils a massive £89 million during the summer transfer window, has now completed more passes than any other English top-flight midfielder this season.
Given his technical ability, it is perhaps unsurprising to see Pogba emerging as one of the division’s most proficient performers. After all, he returned to the Manchester outfit as perhaps the world’s most coveted player, with Europe’s elite clubs all in hot pursuit of his signature.
His record-money move to Old Trafford was accompanied by huge fanfare and huge expectation, following a summer in which Pogba featured on home soil for his country at EURO 2016 – a tournament which would ultimately end in heartbreak for the hosts, at the hands of subsequent winners Portugal.
While Pogba hasn’t quite been the midfield lynchpin that the Old Trafford faithful were hoping for this season, this impressive statistic is a sure sign of his increasing influence on games. This was typified with his contribution during Manchester United’s recent 2-0 win over Chelsea, for which he received significant praise.
So far this season he has featured across 28 matches for Jose Mourinho’s men, totaling 1726 passes throughout his involvement – an average of 61.64 per appearance. 1312 of these have seen the ball moved forward, with just 711 going backwards. Additionally, he has fashioned 54 key passes, three of which have resulted in assists.
His creative output hasn’t quite lived up to supporters’ £89 million expectations, with several other household names trumping him in this area. Nonetheless, this is an area he will undoubtedly seek to improve ahead of his second full season as a Manchester United first-team player.[interaction id=”58f3d6ce240e61ee26bf20d5"]
Does Tottenham’s reported Alassane Plea swoop suggest Anthony Martial pursuit is over?
Does this new pursuit suggest Tottenham are finished with the Manchester United man?
Tottenham have opened negotiations for OGC Nice forward Alassane Plea with an offer of around 25 million euros (£21.9m), as Mauricio Pochettino looks to bolster the supply line to 41-goal man Harry Kane, according to reports from Foot Mercato.
The 25-year-old striker stood out this season for the Ligue 1 outfit, bagging an impressive 21 goals and seven assists in 49 appearances for a stuttering side, and the Spurs boss has decided he could be the man to diversify the attack at White Hart Lane next term.
Anthony Martial was originally touted as high on the list 0f the Argentine’s targets last month, according to London Evening Standard, but it appears that, after failing to gather any traction in negotiations for the Frenchman, the Lilywhites could have ended all hope of landing his signature.
Both players employ a similar play-style, using their speed and attacking intelligence to trouble defences with runs in-behind, and it seems unlikely Pochettino would try to land both this summer, given previous financial restrictions in recent years.
The most likely outcome is that Spurs have decided that financially, the pursuit of Martial isn’t worth what Manchester United are demanding – the Mirror having reported that the Red Devils have slapped a £75 million price-tag on the 22-year-old – and Alassane Plea is a secondary target.
Manchester United World Cup round-up: David De Gea bounces back for Spain
As one of the world’s biggest clubs, it is no surprise to see a host of names linked to Manchester United in action at the biggest stage in the form of the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Only one current player was in action on Wednesday, goalkeeper David de Gea, but he was joined in action by ex-players and transfer targets.
The Player: David de Gea (Spain)
After a humiliating mistake earned some harsh critics from Spain, David de Gea bounced back by getting his first clean sheet of the World Cup for the Spaniards against Iran in a 1-0 win.
It was perhaps not as quiet an evening as the goalkeeper may have been hoping for and he did look a little nervous early on, but he settled into the game and looked more like his composed and confident self as the game went on.
A clean sheet will give him renewed belief after two consecutive mistakes in a friendly against Switzerland and the World Cup opener against Portugal.
The Ex-Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
It was an ex-Red Devil who capitalised on De Gea’s error in the opening round of World Cup games, and Cristiano Ronaldo added a fourth World Cup goal to ensure he remains on top spot of the goalscoring charts.
That came in another 1-0 win, for Portugal against Morocco, as he powered home a powerful header in just the fourth minute to put his team into pole position and see out their first win of the campaign.
Whilst many of his team-mates struggled and looked lacklustre at times, no-one can question the unbelievable quality of the Real Madrid player.
The Transfer Target: Jose Gimenez (Uruguay)
It now looks unlikely that Jose Gimenez will move to Old Trafford after signing a new long-term deal with Atletico Madrid, but the Express reported that the club were considering a move for him this summer after months of links.
The young central defender lined up alongside club team-mate Diego Godin for Uruguay in the heart of defence against Saudi Arabia and enjoyed a comfortable afternoon as Saudi Arabia struggled to really threaten.
England must start Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek after Panama reveal tactics
England must opt for creativity after the Panama captain’s comments
Panama have revealed plans stifle England with a physical approach in their upcoming clash on Sunday, in quotes from captain Roman Torres on the Telegraph, and Gareth Southgate should ensure the Three Lions’ approach is suited to the style of opponent.
The Central Americans were beaten 3-0 by a star-studded Belgium outfit on Monday in their World Cup debut, meaning a win against England is pivotal in ensuring they remain in the competition beyond the group stages. And England will have a tough task taking the lion’s share of points on the day.
“England are a bit more direct than Belgium. They try to make use of the pace they have. We’ll need to be compact and limit their space,” revealed Torres told the Telegraph.
And as a result England must employ the right tactics. Creativity and bravery will be key, as they will undoubtedly have the majority of possession, and Southgate will want to make it count. Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added instant impetus to a languid outfit, after coming on late against Tunisia.
The team’s performance became full of purpose and directness in the last 20 minutes, with both taking the responsibility of carrying the ball forward and creating, and from that arrived the corner and subsequent winner from Harry Kane.
The end product from the likes of Rashford was missing in the opening stages of the game also, as team-mate Jesse Lingard squandered a number of key opportunities to put the game to bed early, and Southgate will not want a repeat this time around.