The 21-year-old is a £60 million target for Chelsea and further increased his profile with a man-of-the-match display for France as they beat Nigeria to reach the quarter-finalsBy Alex Young
Since leaving Manchester United for Juventus two years ago, Paul Pogba has established himself as one of the most exciting youngsters in Europe and had big expectations on his shoulders heading into the World Cup.
France surprised many with their dominating displays during the group stage so, with Chelsea interested in bringing the 21-year-old back to the Premier League, Goal runs the rule over the midfielder's performance against Nigeria as Les Bleus booked a place in the quarter-finals.
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST NIGERIA
Pogba's powerful athleticism was evident early on after clashing with Ogenyi Onazi, with the latter having to be stretchered off before returning to carry on.
The 21-year-old was then lucky to avoid being booked after catching Victor Moses with his right foot when attempting to bring down a high ball.
However, on a more positive note, Pogba started - and nearly finished - France's best sight of goal in the first half. The midfielder marauded past two Nigeria players and found Mathieu Valbuena on the right, who returned the ball with a first-time cross that Pogba brilliantly volleyed towards goal only for Vincent Enyeama to save equally well.
The Juve star's influence perhaps waned slightly in the second half as France became more desperate for a goal but the youngster stepped up when it mattered most by heading into an empty net after Enyeama flapped at a cross.
It was a man-of-the-match performance from Pogba as he displayed his boundless potential on the biggest stage.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
Anyone in the Premier League would welcome and be improved by Pogba's presence in midfield. Traditionally a defensive-minded central midfielder, the 21-year-old is equally adept at venturing further forward.
Chelsea are keen on his services but the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are in more desperate need of midfield reinforcements.
Arsene Wenger has been in need of a tough-tackling leader on the pitch since Patrick Vieira left and the same goes for Roy Keane at United, while Chelsea already have Ramires, Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel.
Pogba, though, is an improvement on at least two of those on recent form and, with the versatile David Luiz's move to Paris Saint-Germain going through this summer, it would suggest that space for the youngster is available in the squad.
Pogba could even be viewed as a long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, while the potential departure of Yaya Toure at Manchester City could see the Premier League champions hold an interest.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Pogba's future is very much up in the air at the moment. Goal exclusively revealed on Friday that Chelsea are stepping up their interest in the 21-year-old and are prepared to pay £60 million for his services.
Juventus are understood to be keen to keep hold of one of their most prized assets but such an offer could force their hand, having paid a nominal payment to United for the out-of-contract star two years ago.
Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, insisted recently that his client is happy at the Turin club, telling Rai Sport: "I can calmly say that his future will still be at Juventus, where he feels very happy."
Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta, too, is keen to tie Pogba down to improved terms.
He said in May: "We intend to extend Pogba's contract and we have already spoken with his agent. Paul is a smart guy and this is the perfect place for him to improve further. You cannot imagine him leaving Juventus."
Whether or not Chelsea will be successful in their attempts to lure Pogba away from Juventus is unclear, but question marks over the player's future remain.