We all know that Paul Pogba is mesmerizing to watch on the pitch. The World Cup winner is having a summer to remember—a coming of age moment for his career if you will. Early expectations lauded France to have a prolific run in Russia. However, few (even José Mourinho) believed they would exit the tournament as champions. From completely bossing the midfield early in the group stages to nabbing the winning goal in the finale match, Manchester United’s most expensive player silenced all critics who foolishly questioned his world-class status.
In three short weeks the 2017/2018 Premier League campaign begins and Mourinho’s men will officially challenge Manchester City for the title. The boss has yet to name his choice for captain; however, the decision is very clear. Paul Labile Pogba deserves to wear that armband.
Ahead of the biggest games of their lives on Sunday, Pogba emerged as the leader. Not veteran Hugo Lloris—France’s actual captain—or manager Didier Deschamps. It was the offensive midfielder who delivered an unforgettable pre-game speech. The star remained cool in his approach, yet emphasized that they were “90 minutes away from making history.” Referencing their heartbreaking loss to Portugal in the Euro finals two summers ago, Pogba encouraged his teammates to “Not let another team take what is ours.”
When you watch that video, you feel that his remarks resonate with his mates. They are fixated on not only Pogba the player, but also Pogba the energizer. One fundamental quality captains must have is control over their dressing room. At halftime and down a goal, the captain must reassure players that while an uphill battle awaits them, a comeback is imminent. While Les Bleus were never in danger of losing to Croatia, perhaps it was Pogba’s speech that deterred any early doubt that bringing a second World Cup title for their country was impossible.
With Michael Carrick’s injury benching him for most of last year, right-back Antonio Valencia fulfilled the skipper’s role. Now that Carrick has officially joined Mou’s coaching staff, United need a new leader. In five short weeks, Paul Pogba has proven his worth to his country and that—coupled with a World Cup title to his name—has strengthened the argument that Pogba is fully committed to the club that splashed nearly £90 million two years ago to bring him back to Old Trafford.
United is still a team craving restructuring, and Pogba’s 2016 return was a rebirth for the Manchester United fans remember in the Sir Alex era. Since then, his recruitment of Romelu Lukaku last summer and partnership with Nemanja Matić in the middle has yielded successful results, particularly a second place finish last season. While there’s justified discussion around whether Pogba can translate his stunning form while wearing a United kit next month, that’s a challenge that the Frenchman is undoubtedly ready to face.
Pogba’s promotion to captain certainly does not diminish the deserving efforts of United’s more experienced players. As previously mentioned, Valencia satisfied the role when Carrick could not. Ashley Young, who only just trails the Ecuadorian in seasons at Old Trafford, has performed quite well in his role as left-back. I’ve exhausted just how valuable David de Gea is to United not only in transfer value but also in goal. Unsuccessful results in Russia have no bearings on the trust United fans have in the aforementioned names. When Paul Pogba eventually returns to Manchester, he will be proactive in his demeanor, understanding what winning a trophy in 2018 feels like and will in turn feel ready to accept the responsibility of leading his team to a domestic title next year.
Antonio Valencia, whose absence in Russia afforded him a full summer’s rest, will be the likely skipper when Manchester United open the Premier League at home to Leicester on August 10. He promised to make France explode with joy, and Pogba followed through with passion and tenacity, both necessary qualifications for the captain of such a reputable club. Promoting Paul Pogba with the armband could be a risky move for the Special One, but the Frenchman is too important to not be the nucleus of José Mourinho’s team.