Published 24/12/2019 at 11:50 GMT | Updated 24/12/2019 at 14:34 GMT
Speaking ahead of United’s Boxing Day game against Newcastle United, Solskjaer did not hold back his excitement at having the World Cup winner back following a lengthy recovery from a foot injury and a brief illness.
He wants Pogba to start, saying: "You just want to get more and more into the team when he plays.
"He can play anywhere, he can play the whole midfield, he is a box-to-box midfielder. He can drop deep, get it and play them long passes. He can get higher up and combine like he did on Sunday."
The 26-year-old midfielder sparked United into life when he arrived as a substitute during their 2-0 defeat to the Premier League’s bottom side, Watford. United were unable to score but looked far more threatening when he came on, and his presence could solve the side’s most conspicuous weakness.
Nightmare before Christmas for Man Utd as Haaland picks Italian giants - Euro Papers
United have an excellent record against the teams above them, undefeated for the season, but they have repeatedly failed to convince against the traditionally smaller sides below them in the league. That has left them off the pace in the chase for the top four spots, seven points from fourth-placed Chelsea with half the season remaining.
Against sides who take the game to them, Solskjaer’s focus on young, quick attackers has paid off as they exploit the space behind the defence and make the most of Marcus Rashford and Daniel James’ direct play on the wings. The return of Anthony Martial and emergence of Mason Greenwood has at times given them an effective focal point.
However the side have failed to put sides to the sword when they are asked to take the initiative in a game. The midfield in Pogba’s absence has often been Fred and Scott McTominay and, sometimes with the assistance of Andreas Pereira or Nemanja Matic, they have shown little creativity. The forwards ahead of them do not yet have the experience or guile to break down a massed defence, and full-backs Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have offered little attacking threat down the flanks.
Solskjaer also described Pogba as the "best all-round midfielder in the world", and it is easy to see how he will fit into the current side. While McTominay and Fred have improved throughout the season, Jesse Lingard looks set to pay the price for going almost the whole calendar year with neither a goal nor an assist. Pogba threatened to do both in his short cameo against Watford.
However, there is no guarantee that Pogba will be productive. In his time at United he has been frustratingly careless in possession, giving the ball away as he attempts some indefinable action that requires six, seven, maybe more touches. He does not put his foot in tough situations, and for such an imposing figure he rarely makes the most of his strength. That is the bad side of Pogba, but the good is intermittently so devastating it continues to buy him time and chances.
Solskjaer knows that Pogba’s range of passing is the best at the club, at its peak better than Michael Carrick or David Beckham’s. His eye for a long-range shot is the best at Old Trafford since the retirement of Paul Scholes. His technical ability is unrivalled at the club. So how do United bring this out of him while the club founders?
Football Soccer - Juventus v Milan - Italian Cup Final - Olympic stadium, Rome, Italy - 21/05/16 Juventus' Paul Pogba holds the cup at the end of the match against AC Milan
Image credit: Reuters
The answer may simply be to play to his ego. The hard-edged attitude from Jose Mourinho may well have been justified, but it did not work. His agent Mino Raiola wants more investment to come from United to help him out, suggesting Pogba is not a player who will ever do it by himself. At Juventus, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo were exceptional players. The whole side earned the adoration that he enjoyed.
Fred and McTominay are not their equal, and Martial is not a ruthless striker to make the most of his creativity. Solskjaer will likely never turn Pogba into a leader, but he could make him the centre of attention, and demonstrate to him that the crowd will make him a hero if he is at the heart of a resurgence. With two players expected in the transfer window, he could be assured that other players of exceptional talent will join him on the pitch. His concerns can finally be assuaged, but it is far from certain he will relocate his excellence.
And he might just join Juventus in January anyway.