Is Juventus’ Paul Pogba Playing Too Much Defense?

What if Pogba played as a Number 10? Photo Credit: Schalke via Wikimedia Commons
What if Pogba played as a Number 10? Photo Credit: Schalke via Wikimedia Commons /

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is one of the world’s brightest football talents at just 22 years of age. He is generally deployed as a midfielder for both his club, Juventus and country, France, although in slightly different formations.

Every time I watch him I am plagued with the question of whether or not he is spending too much time on the defensive side of the pitch. While he is a physically imposing defender, his focus there detracts from his world-class offensive skills.

When watching Pogba on the ball you can’t help but be mesmerized. He manages to hold on to the ball with a rare combination of brute physicality and smooth skill. Opponents bounce off of him as he dribbles down the field and he shows remarkable athleticism while gliding by others who dare challenge him.

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When he’s on the ball it’s almost impossible to take it from his grasp. Those are the ideal skills for a number 10, not a more defensive midfielder.

For the record, I can understand the philosophy behind playing Pogba in a more defensive position. He is a physical beast who can really shield the team’s back four. If your team is blessed with an array of attacking talent that might even be the right deployment. Join me though in an exercise of thought on what it’d be like if Pogba did play as a number 10.

He could be a powerful engine for a team’s attack. Imagine having a player like Pogba who can run at defenders, hold up play, pick out a pass and finish with equal ability. Pogba would be a pressure release up field for his defense and could quickly turn play in the favor of his fellow attackers.

The cerebral aspect of his game is vastly underrated. His physical skills overshadow his exquisite playmaking. He has the potential to be a unique offensive threat.

In modern football, it’s nice to have quality defensive midfielders, but there is a great premium placed on attacking talent. Given that reality, it seems silly to keep a unique force like Pogba in such a deep position. Why not take the shackles of defense off the young star and let him display the full range of his offensive gifts?

In the end, Pogba’s career is probably too advanced for such a significant position shift. He’s a world-class midfielder already so I can’t see either club or country messing with something that’s already a rousing success. It’s too bad though, because in his current roles we only see glimpses of what could be a prodigious offensive talent. HIs defensive responsibilities may rob us all from seeing one of football’s true offensive geniuses.