Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has confessed he felt Paul Pogba was ‘just another player’ when the pair first met in August 2012, so he was pleasantly surprised to see the Frenchman blossom into a superstar.
When he left Manchester United that summer, Pogba was yet to make any real impact on senior football and he had been accused of letting his ego grow bigger than his talent. Many felt that United must have had a good reason to decline to use him further.
However, he quickly became an integral part of the Juventus first team, making 37 appearances and leading the side to Serie A glory, and Chiellini confessed in his new autobiography Io, Giorgio (via Football Italia) that he didn’t really see that coming.
“I remember when he came,” Chiellini began. “Three or four days into the retreat, my teammates and I looked at each other and said: ‘This guy is really good’.
“He came as a free agent from Manchester United, he was very young, and we thought he was just one of many passing through. One of those who clubs use to do work on the market.
“However…nobody expected such a champion. Paul moved around with incredible physique, he was magical, impressive. And to say that the first games he played out of position, in front of the defence to ease [Andrea] Pirlo.
“But knowing him, in the time to come it became clear that the role had limited him. Paul could not open his stride and free his physical and technical arrogance, what would allow him to become the formidable box-to-box player we know.”
During his four years with Juventus, Pogba managed 178 appearances in all competitions, lifting four Serie A titles, reaching the Champions League final and becoming one of the most in-demand stars around.
It was United who won the race for his signature, luring Pogba back to Old Trafford in a £90m deal back in 2016.
Since then, his performances have earned mixed reviews and he has been heavily linked with a second departure from the club, with Juventus one of the sides keen to strike a deal this summer. However, with Real Madrid lurking around as well and United proving reluctant to sell anyway, a move is far from a certainty.
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