Pogba passes blame for his critics onto Messi & Ronaldo amid 16-goal season at Man Utd

Paul Pogba Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi
Getty/Goal composite
The World Cup winner continues to face questions of his contribution, but he believes that is down to the impossible standards being set by others

Paul Pogba has suggested that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are partly to blame for the criticism that continues to come his way at Manchester United.

Despite being a World Cup winner and a player proven at the very highest level, the France international has seen his contribution at Old Trafford questioned on a regular basis.

He has recorded a new personal best in terms of goals this season, with the target found 16 times across all competitions.

Pogba has also registered 11 assists, but his future is the subject of much speculation amid ongoing concerns regarding his consistency.

The 26-year-old believes his contribution would have been lauded not all that long ago, with the exploits of star turns at Barcelona and Juventus pushing expectation levels up for everybody else.

Pogba told Icon Magazine: “Football has changed a lot. I grew up watching the exploits of great champions, real legends like [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Luis] Figo, [Francesco] Totti and many others. 

“All have been champions, the best in the world, but perhaps many of them did not achieve more than 20 goals per season.

“Now the data, the statistics, the numbers, often seem to have become the only parameter of judgment.

“That, on the one hand, is good, it is part of the evolution of modern football and the desire to play the ball more and more. But we often tend to forget how difficult it has always been to score more than 20 goals, even for the big players.

“And today perhaps even more so, because the distance between the teams of high level has been reduced, especially in big competitions. 

“Messi and Ronaldo have shown in recent years: doing what they did, maintaining those stats – that is the exception, not the norm.

Pogba added: “If an attacker today scores ten or 15 goals, he is likely to be told that it is not enough. But the player's work must be judged with perspective.

“You have to remember that someone like Pavel Nedved won the Ballon d’Or without his team winning the Champions League or without having scored much himself. He was simply the best in his role and was rewarded for what he was capable of doing on the field.”

Paul Pogba Manchester United 2018-19

Position is another issue that has followed Pogba around of late, with Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer considered to have struggled to find the best role for a mercurial talent.

A man who has operated in a number of different posts throughout his career does not see the problems that others are keen to highlight, with it his opinion that he can flourish anywhere.

Pogba added: “[I can play] on the right, on the left, in front. I don’t really care. 

“I can play behind the attackers, in front of the defence. It depends on the ideas of the coach, the style and the philosophy of the team that I play in.

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“Because we can never forget that football is a team game and if the team works well together, we will all have more fun. 

“Paul here or Paul there: Paul is a midfielder and his task, more than ever, is helping the team do what they set out to do – beyond the obsession with the goal, especially in front of the players of my position. Luckily, I also score goals, but that's not what matters in my case.”

Pogba has one more outing to take in, against Cardiff on Sunday, before United’s campaign comes to a close and he heads towards the summer transfer window being heavily linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.