How do you get the best out of Pogba? Here's what Mourinho could learn from Conte

Paul Pogba Antonio Conte Juventus
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The Chelsea boss managed the world's most expensive player while at Juventus, so Goal takes a look at how he got the most out of the French midfielder


Antonio Conte's management of Paul Pogba whilst at Juventus offers Jose Mourinho an insight into how to get the best out of his £89 million signing, having watched the Frenchman struggle to live up to his record-breaking price tag at Manchester United.

Don't compare Kante with Pogba, says Conte

Pogba flourished under the tutelage of Conte in Turin but has so far only shown glimpses of what he is capable of in the Premier League.

Despite his patchy return to Manchester, Pogba has been ever-present in the United line-up. He has, however, had to play a little deeper than he would have liked under Mourinho, who arrived at Old Trafford to find a wealth of attacking midfielders at the club but far less competition in the deeper roles.

Pogba has himself revealed his preference for a more advanced position in midfield, specifically highlighting the left side in a three-man unit in the middle of the park, though is willing to sacrifice this spot for the sake of his team-mates.

"I would say midfielder on the left. If you play a three I can play on the right of left, but I feel more comfortable to play on my left," Pogba told Sky Sports when asked what his best position is. "I can do it [holding midfielder], but I feel more comfortable a bit higher."

Mourinho has had trouble getting the best out of Pogba so far, as he lacks energy and power in midfield to compliment his genius. Pogba is often played in a central midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, where he is asked to play with more defensive responsibility than he would ideally like, while also being the player who starts off the attacks from deep positions. 

Pogba line up

Pogba does sometimes get to play at the top of the midfield three, though, which he is more suited to, though his placement there is at the expense of one of many attacking team-mates, such as Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney or Marouane Fellaini. 

Juventus, under Conte, were playing 3-5-2 in Pogba's final year at the club and he was employed on the left-hand-side of a midfield three. Conte's wing-backs were able to provide cover for Pogba, who was able to focus on making intelligent runs and being a goal threat in Serie A.

He also had Andrea Pirlo alongside him, who would sit the deepest and take on the transition phase, quickly moving the ball from defence to attack.

Pogba's increased responsibility, coupled with his price tag and the difficulty of the Premier League, are the reasons why he hasn't quite looked a world-beater just yet. 

The 23-year-old got used to winning silverware and developed his game under Conte at Juventus, claiming four back-to-back league titles at the club, as well as two Coppa Italia trophies. Pogba was also in the side led by Conte's successor Massimiliano Allegri who competed in the 2015 Champions League final, before eventually losing the game 3-1 to Barcelona.

Pogba is now preparing for another reunion with his former mentor Conte as Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge on Monday evening, having suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat in the earlier league meeting. That loss was another game in which Pogba was picked out as performing poorly, while his countryman, N'Golo Kante, took the plaudits. 

Pogba line up

However, he has already tasted success in a red shirt after claiming an EFL Cup trophy, while United remain in contention to lift the FA Cup and Europa League. The Red Devils will need to improve upon their sixth-place position in the Premier League table in the coming weeks, however, and Pogba will be key to their success. 

Conte: I want to be like Mourinho

The Frenchman will certainly be pivotal to United for many years to come, but Mourinho may have to spend yet more money to get the best out of the world's most expensive player, as he re-thinks his long-term position in the starting XI. 

To do so, he could well look for a Arturo Vidal and Pirlo-type combination in the transfer market, or even a younger Michael Carrick and a Kante type of player to get more out of his £89m man.