Paul Pogba would be “one of the best players in the world” if he played for Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola, says Michael Owen, with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho holding him back.
He was, however, to endure another frustrating evening in Spain, with one golden opportunity squandered as United slipped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat.
Further questions are now being asked of Pogba’s future at Old Trafford and the role Mourinho is playing in his development.
Former United striker Owen believes the 25-year-old is not getting the support he needs, telling BT Sport: “I think the manager has to take some of the blame – the system, the way he plays.
"I remember when he first signed they were trying all kinds of midfielders in and around him trying to get the best out of him.
“I feel sorry for him from that point of view but, as a player, it is frustrating when you watch him because he still looks like a 16 or 17-year-old learning the game.
“I think he could do a lot worse than just going to watch a load of videos of Paul Scholes – see when to play one touch, see when to take loads of touches, when to beat players…
“I think he makes so many bad decisions in games, which is frustrating because if he was playing as he should… if he was playing under a Guardiola or a Klopp or someone like that I think we'd be looking at certainly one of the best few players in the world, but at the moment we can't say that.”
Owen added: “I'm of the opinion that he is totally world class playing in a certain team in a certain way.
“I get very frustrated watching him because I know he's better than what we see week in week out.
“I'm almost siding with him because I don't think the way the team plays or the way the manager manages him is conducive to getting the best out of him.”
Owen Hargreaves, a man who once patrolled the United midfield himself, is another who believes that mismanagement at Old Trafford has stunted the progress of a man once tipped to become one of the very best.
He said: “The balance around him hasn't worked at United.
“Mourinho has tried and it hasn't worked. I think at United the blame always goes all to Pogba or all to Mourinho. And I think it's very difficult to try to manage that. They need help because all the other players are almost getting out of it.
“There is no denying that Paul Pogba is a special player but I think right now he's not playing because the intensity isn't there.”