Paul Pogba – 21 Years Old (source: The Guardian)
Paul Pogba is the most talented young central midfielder on the planet. It’s pretty much a fact, in a game filled with opinions. Since leaving Manchester United, Pogba has competed for his place in a Juventus midfield that is filled to the brim with talent, but he’s asserted his dominance in the side now as a regular starter. Learning from the likes of Pirlo and Vidal isn’t a bad way to spend the end of your teenage years. His grace on the ball has never been in question but he’s developed a certain tenacity to his game, controlled roughness is an underestimated quality and this has been a feature that has grown visibly in his game. He imposes his presence on the opposition now becoming a truly complete midfielder. It is no surprise that Serie A’s only nominee for the Ballon d’Or shortlist was Pogba, he’s been outstanding a mix of technical brilliance and natural athleticism sets him apart.
For a player so young, there’s an air of confidence and certainty around him, he believes that he’ll win the Ballon d’Or, it is part of his ambition and there’s certainly been no evidence to contradict that so far. Compared to fellow Frenchman Zidane, his elegance on the ball for someone of his frame it is hard not to draw comparisons, and although he may be some way off reaching legendary status, a comparison between the two at similar ages would certainly put Pogba ahead at this moment in time in terms of achievement and the level of competition that he plays in. His height gives him an advantage in the air and his understanding of the game, quick decision making and incisive play make him an all-round threat.
An eye for the spectacular, Pogba hasn’t yet become what you would consider a regular goalscorer but when he does find the net it is often with some style and from a considerable distance. A wonderful dribbler, Pogba averages 2.7 dribbles per game (According to WhoScored) a statistic that would put him 9th in the Premier League, equal with Palace winger, Yannick Bolasie. The list of faults is almost barren when it comes to Pogba, but for him to become the best his level of consistency needs to be greater, there are always flashes of brilliance in every game, when he can maintain that for a whole 90mins over prolonged periods that is when he will become unstoppable.
Where would he fit in?
Like a glove in the heart of midfield. United’s midfield isn’t as bad as originally feared going into the start of the season but they lack a superstar. They lack someone to control the game and really raise the tempo from a deeper position, getting the ball out quicker to the players ahead. The recent Rooney experiment in midfield with Di Maria up front hasn’t reaped much reward and having some who naturally could fill that void would be worth his weight in gold.
Chances of signing?
Juventus would pretty much ask for Pogba’s weight in gold and probably a good few diamonds as well. The Italian side made one of the best moves in the summer when they managed to hold on to their midfield duo of Pogba and Vidal, both have since let it be known that they are happy in Turin and who could blame them? A quick exit in the Champions League may spell danger come the summer transfer window but it would surely take something ludicrous to even make Agnelli flinch, something way beyond the £61million quoted.
Mats Hummels – 26 Years old (source: Several)
The Dortmund captain has watched half the season so far on the sidelines probably in disbelief at what has happened to his side on the field in the Bundesliga this season. A World Cup winner only seven months ago, the stock of most players at Dortmund has been in free-fall. Injuries aside, Hummels along with fellow sideline spectator Marco Reus have been the two silver linings in an ominously dark cloud this season, whilst his form probably hasn’t been at the height of seasons gone by, it has been a stumble in comparison to the drop of those around him. Hummels remains one of the best around, it is rare that a defender in this age is excellent at man marking, mainly because few teams stick to it throughout a season but it is an area of the game that Hummels has made a name for himself. He’s great tight to the opposition striker, willing to make tackles and intercept the ball, he has a great understanding of his role and times the majority of his play perfectly. He’s a strong presence in the air too, very few players win the aerial battle against him and in the Premier League that is always a major bonus when many teams possess a towering centre forward used as a target man to hold up play.
A fantastic player on the ball, Hummels adheres to the growing trend of defenders being comfortable with the ball at their feet. Able to carry the ball from the back and take it into midfield as well as being equally adept at finding the right pass. At 26 Hummels has matured into a leader for Dortmund and in a time of despair he has stood strong and not shied away from his responsibilities.
Where would he fit in?
The stats really do flatter this United defence. It is difficult to call this unit the third best in the Premier League but that is where they stand in league position and in goals conceded. Adding someone like Hummels replaces the gaping void of experience that was left after the loss of Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra in the summer. These young players at the club need someone to marshall them through their career and having someone who has won the World Cup is never a bad starting point. Hummels’ ability on the ball would do wonders for the team in an attacking sense, the build up is lethargic from the back and lacks any real quality. United have struggled for goals this season despite being packed with star names in attack but a bit of impetus from the back could go a long way to remedying that issue.
Chances of Signing?
Hummels recently said he doesn’t need the Champions League to be happy, fantastic news for United as he wouldn’t mind a January switch then, right? The comments were about Dortmund’s chances of qualifying for next season’s competition but it does open the door for an end of the month move to Manchester.