'Man Utd can't rely on schoolboy Pogba' - Souness

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The 24-year-old midfielder remains an integral part of Jose Mourinho's side, but Graeme Souness expects a great deal more from him

Paul Pogba is far away from becoming a great player because he does not understand his role in Manchester United's midfield, according to Graeme Souness, who believes the Old Trafford side should try to sign Christian Eriksen to fix their troubles.

Pogba has been a pivotal player for the Red Devils since he returned from Juventus for a then world record £89 million in 2016.

The France international has scored three times and set up a further nine in 16 Premier League appearances this season as United look to challenge Manchester City to the title, but faced criticism for his performance in a recent 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Pogba was dropped the following week as United beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 last week, though coach Jose Mourinho insisted he was not being punished.

However, ex-Liverpool star Souness feels the 24-year-old is performing well below expectation and feels he is not sure what is required of him in the centre of the field.

"Paul Pogba is capable of great things, but a country mile from being a great player," he wrote in  The Sunday Times .  "That distinction is due to his inability to grasp the responsibility that comes with being a central midfielder. He is 24 now and an £89m signing, yet he still doesn’t understand what is required to play that position properly.

"[Mourinho is] clearly not happy with aspects of Pogba’s game. Maybe that will make the message finally sink in, but I doubt it. Pogba simply cannot be one of two in central midfield. You cannot rely on him. Against the lesser teams you’ll get away with it, but against the better teams you’re not going to."

Although Mourinho laughed off any debate over where Pogba should play, ex-United star Ryan Giggs recently argued out that Pogba looks best as a left sided midfielder , and Souness agrees with the new Wales boss, pointing out the New Year's Day win over Everton as the perfect example.

"He played on the left of a three in midfield and was drifting wide to be the tallest left-winger in the world, powering past people, dropping a shoulder, wrong-footing defenders and whipping in crosses," he said. 

"For Mourinho and United, it’s about finding the right position for him, but he isn’t a playmaker. If you’re looking for a central midfielder who recognises danger, fills spaces and doesn’t drift out of position, he’s not going to do that for you.

Paul Pogba Manchester United

"When he’s asked to do a job centrally, he’s forever straying towards the touchline trying to get on the ball. A central midfielder should never be in areas wider than the penalty box, unless they are out there to confront danger defensively.

"Pogba empties that central area far too readily. He will do something clever in the final third, but will be absent when his back four are under the cosh. He plays like a schoolboy running after the ball in the playground."

Although the three-time European Cup winner insists he is a big fan of Pogba, he feels United would benefit from a constantly creative star like Eriksen at Tottenham.

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"There’s lots I like about Pogba. He’s powerful and athletic with good technique, but I’ve not seen a different, improved Pogba since he walked back into Old Trafford in August 2016. Three goals from 22 club games this season isn’t good enough. Somebody with his athleticism and physique should be well into double figures every season.

"United need a better mix there to keep the ball better, make them a better watch and more threatening, with better quality into their strikers. They need a craftsman such as Christian Eriksen at Tottenham.

"Romelu Lukaku has faced some criticism, but he’s not been getting chances put on a plate. He could do with an Eriksen-type doing that for him. United are crying out for a clever passer. Juan Mata can do it, but he can’t get around the pitch the way that Eriksen does or the way that Mourinho wants his players to."

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