Paul Pogba vs Graeme Souness: Medals on the table, who has had the best career?

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Paul Pogba Graeme Souness
Getty/Goal composite
The French World Cup winner claimed not to have heard of the man who helped Liverpool to three European Cups

Depending on your perspective, the Paul Pogba vs Graeme Souness 'rivalry' is either tediously boring or an endless source of entertainment.

Whether it is television punditry or in his newspaper columns, the former Liverpool captain appears to reserve a particular level of disdain for Pogba, regularly questioning the Manchester United midfielder's ability and understanding of the game.

The France international has been branded "a YouTuber" with an attitude problem, who only plays for himself and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Ever since Pogba returned to Old Trafford in 2016, his actions both on and off the pitch have been heavily scrutinised - some might say unfairly - by Souness. 

When asked on a Manchester United podcast in 2020 for his opinion on Souness' comments, Pogba revealed that he hadn't heard of his arch critic, to which Souness promptly retorted: "The oldest thing in football comes to mind – put your medals on the table."

So let's put their medals on the table and answer the question.

What medals has Paul Pogba won?

Pogba has won medals at club and international level throughout his career so far and has undoubtedly been a standout player for any team that he has played for, winning plenty of individual accolades.

At Juventus, the midfielder was part of four Serie A-winning Juventus teams, as well as winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa twice each. While in Turin, Pogba also made the Serie A Team of the Year on three occasions.

His eye-catching displays for the Bianconeri were enough for Manchester United to fork out £89 million ($116m) for his services in 2016, but the medals have not been as easily earned at Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba Europa League 2016-17

Nevertheless, Pogba has won the Europa League - scoring in the final against Ajax - and Carabao Cup during his second stint with the Red Devils, as well as earning a place in the PFA's Premier League Team of the Year on one occasion.

Pogba is also a world champion, having played a key role in France's 2018 World Cup triumph in Russia. The midfielder always seems to thrive when representing his country and tasted success at youth level when Les Bleus won the Under-20 World Cup in 2013, a tournament in which he won the Golden Ball. Before winning the World Cup in 2018, Pogba was also named Best Young Player at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

By 2020, then, Pogba had won a total of 11 medals at senior level for club and country. 

What medals has Graeme Souness won?

Souness was the beating heart of the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1980s, but also won medals playing for Sampdoria, Rangers and Middlesbrough.

The most successful period of Souness' playing career was, of course, at Anfield, where he helped the Reds to five First Division titles, three European Cups, three League Cups and three Charity Shields.

In that time, he was named in the PFA First Division Team of the Year four times and shared the European Cup Golden Boot award in 1980-81 with team-mate Terry McDermott and Bayern Munich's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Graeme Souness Kenny Dalglish Alan Hansen Liverpool European Cup 1981

Like Pogba, Souness also tasted success in Italy, winning the Coppa Italia with Sampdoria, and as his playing days wound down he won the Scottish Premier Division and Scottish League Cup with Rangers.

He also won the old Second Division (today's Championship) with Middlesbrough and, at youth level, the Scotsman won the FA Youth Cup during his time at Tottenham.

In all, then, at senior level, Souness amassed a total of 18 medals.

Medals on the table: Who has had the best career?

From a purely numerical perspective, Souness has won more titles than Pogba has in his senior career, boasting 18 winners' medals - seven more than Pogba's 11.

But does that mean he had a better career than Pogba?

Competition Paul Pogba Graeme Souness
World Cup 1 0
European Cup / Champions League 0 3
UEFA Cup / Europa League 1 0
First Division / Premier League 0 5
Second Division / Championship 0 1
League Cup 1 3
Charity / Community Shield 0 3
Serie A 4 0
Coppa Italia 2 1
Supercoppa Italiana 2 0
Scottish Premier Division 0 1
Scottish League Cup 0 1
TOTAL 11 18

The fact that the France midfielder has won the World Cup, which is for many the pinnacle of any football career, is enough to trump anything in Souness' trophy cabinet for some. However, it should be said that he does enjoy the significant advantage of being French, while Souness was forced to toil with Scotland at international level.

Furthermore, while the World Cup is the biggest football competition in the world, there is an argument that it is not the most difficult. Indeed, while sharing the pundit's chair with Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira at the 2014 World Cup, Martin O'Neill famously noted that, while they had been world champions, he had won two European Cups at Nottingham Forest - something neither of them achieved.

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Souness won the European Cup three times with Liverpool. Pogba, by contrast, has played in one Champions League final and came out second best, losing 3-1 against Barcelona in 2015. He has won the Europa League, but that tournament, being second-tier, simply does not match up.

Souness also has more league title triumphs than the Frenchman and did so in a league that was arguably much tougher to win than modern-day Serie A, where Juventus rule the roost.

So it seems that Souness did fare better in his career than Pogba has thus far, but, crucially, the Manchester United star still has the guts of a decade to correct the record.

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