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'Octopus' grabbing headlines

2014-06-19 19:46
Paul Pogba (AFP)

Salvador - Nicknamed 'The Octopus' for his tentacle-like legs, a fiery combative style and his controversial exit from Manchester United have ensured talented France youngster Paul Pogba has created more than his share of headlines.

Pogba left Old Trafford under a cloud after a war of words with then United manager Alex Ferguson who accused the midfielder of a lack of respect when he left for Juventus in 2012 after not making the first team quickly enough.

Since then, Pogba has done his talking on the pitch with the tall 21-year-old fast emerging as a midfield force for club and country.

Oozing class and confidence, Pogba combines a strong physical presence with deft footwork, outstanding technique and superb vision, and has won plaudits in both defensive and attacking roles through the centre of the park.

His potential is underlined by the fact he is seen as the leading candidate to take over the role of pass master from Italian veteran Andrea Pirlo at his club side Juventus.

For France, his presence offers some steel alongside the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi while his athleticism allows him to reinforce attacking forays with Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and co.

Born in France to Guinean parents, Pogba made his international debut in March 2013, but his talent has been clear for some time. French captain from the Under-17s to the Under-20s, he starred in leading the latter to World Cup victory in Turkey last year and already has two Italian league titles to his name.

The most successful in a footballing family - his brothers Florentin and Mathias, play for French side St Etienne and English lower league club Crewe, Pogba shares an agent with the likes of top strikers Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Last year he was named 'Golden Boy', an award given to the most impressive young player in Europe, joining previous

If Pogba has a weakness, its his penchant for tackles that bring out the fiery streak in him.

In 2013 as Juventus clinched the league title he saw red for spitting at Palermo's Salvatore Aronica.

For France, he was sent off in his second appearance, and received a half-time talking to by teammates in his first World Cup match in Brazil after coming close to a red card in an altercation with Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios on Sunday.

His box-to-box engine also saw him win a penalty though, which sent France on their way to a 3-0 Group E victory, and in coach Didier Deschamps, Pogba has a perfect teacher to help him fine tune his aggression.

"There is such a buzz about him and there's always a risk with a player who is being talked up as a star of the World Cup," Deschamps told media.

"It's not an easy environment to manage even if he is at a big club.

"He is still young and he has steps to take."

Prior to the Manchester United and Juventus saga, Pogba was already making headlines after his move as a kid from French side Le Havre to United sparked claims of poaching.

His later acrimonious United exit prompted Ferguson to say he was happy he'd left, although that now appears to have been a mistake.

Now considered one of the hottest prospects in soccer, media reports say Europe's elite clubs, including United, may pay as much as £60 million for him.

That figure could rise should he have a belter in Brazil.

"Noel Le Graet, the president of the (French) Federation, estimated that a quarter-final would be a success," Pogba, who has 12 caps, told French newspaper L'Equipe this week.

"Me? I believe in the group.

"So I say to myself: 'Why not us?".

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