Paul Pogba is one of the architects of the French World Cup triumph in 2018, and a player oozing with charisma. But he’s so much more than that. He is the Paul Pogba who can galvanise an entire squad and pick his team-mates up when times are hard, proving as much with Les Bleus. If there is any big club in the world that is crying out for the direction and leadership that Pogba can provide it is PSG. For that reason alone this makes sense “Pogba at PSG would be great,” says Auxerre boss Furlan.
- Tactical Fantasies: Messi at Man City, the missing piece or a new headache for Pep?
- Tactical Fantasies: Neymar to Real Madrid – Could Zidane turn the prince into a king?
- Tactical fantasies: Would Griezmann be the perfect fit for Liverpool?
For PSG there's no shortage of reasons to target Pogba. Being able to bring in one of the best players of the French national team would please the club’s hierarchy. Plus, he’s a midfielder, the area of the pitch that has caused the club so many problems, Marco Verratti aside. Pogba fits the profile of player PSG are looking for, on and off the pitch. Marketing is always an important consideration for the PSG hierarchy, and Pogba is hugely marketable.
They may not have the European pedigree of Real Madrid or Juventus, the two clubs most often linked to the midfielder, and Ligue 1 does not have the prestige of La Liga, the Premier League or even Serie A, but there is a project for Pogba to help shape in Paris, one of the best cities in the world to live in and, of course, the salary. That package has already attracted Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, Thiago Silva and more. So why not Pogba?
This looks ridiculous on paper. Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe and either Cavani or Mauro Icardi with just Pogba and Verratti behind them. It’s hard to get more glamorous than that. Obviously Thomas Tuchel favours this system, and it has worked, but the same questions will always exist about whether or not balance can be found with this set-up.
The arrival of Idrissa Gueye was a huge boost to PSG but Pogba is a very different player to Gueye and Verratti would not do for Pogba what N’Golo Kante does for him at international level. “It’s risky,” says Furlan. “You have to be careful because we’re talking about alphas in these positions. But I would still like there to be a holder behind them.”
The chosen formation: 4-3-3
The Verratti-Pogba axis still gets to exist and can support the Neymar-Mbappe-Di Maria trio but there is also the protection that Gueye can offer.
“It’s really a great idea to bring the 4-3-3 back to PSG,” Furlan says. “It brings more balance to the middle and it can free Pogba. He can recover and he can finish and in the final third he is a real danger. This is where the partnership with Verratti is interesting because although he is an excellent playmaker, he doesn’t have the same presence in the final third, or at least the numbers to show for it.”
Basically they don’t really differ from the problems that have existed this season. Firstly, going from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 means playing Mbappe out wide or as a lone striker. He can be formidable in both those positions but he seems even better when he is partnered with another striker. Also it doesn’t solve the problem of who plays in front of the defence. Tuchel hasn’t settled on Gueye and has regularly used Marquinhos instead, despite the Brazilian preferring playing in the centre of defence.
This would be a dream transfer for the Parisian club. Recruiting Pogba would not be cheap but there are enough indicators to suggest it would be worth it. Combining Pogba with Neymar and Mbappe would be spectacular. It would also be fascinating to watch Pogba take hold of that locker room, which certainly wouldn’t be an easy task. And that is why he should dream bigger by aiming for PSG.
With Cyril Morin and Vincent Bregevin