Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has generally struggled to win over critics since sealing an £89m return to the club from Juventus over summer.
For a world record fee, people expected the Frenchman to perform unbelievable feats from the get-go, ignoring the fact that he’s quite young, had moved from a country with a very different football style, and was arriving at a club that was still trying to find itself after three wilderness years.
What Pogba has shown since coming back to England is incredible strength on the ball, high quality technique, and a real character and charm that have made him a popular dressing room figure.
Statistically speaking, the Frenchman has also outperformed every other player in the Premier League when it comes to one key criteria. With a total of 1,191 to his name, Pogba has successfully completed more passes in the opposition’s half this season than anyone else, data courtesy of EA SPORTS can reveal.
In that respect, the 24-year-old is outshining David Silva (1,168), Mesut Ozil (1,132), Eden Hazard (1,033) and Granit Xhaka (1,027) – the only others to have gone over 1,000.
It suggests he’s usually looking to attack rather than play on the defensive, a criticism often levelled at top midfielder passers. Only Cesar Azpilicueta (1,777) and Jordan Henderson (1,767) have successfully completed more passes in total than Pogba (1,763) this season, with the United man making 68% of all his passes in the opposition’s half.
Pogba’s accuracy of 82.54% is marginally worse than the likes of Silva or Hazard, but it is much better than another star play-maker in Christian Eriksen. The Dane has only completed 77.76% of his passes in the opposition’s half this season, while Kevin De Bruyne has a similar 79.13% accuracy level.
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez misplaces as many as three in every 10 passes he makes in the opposition’s half, while Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele is the only individual among the Premier League’s 20 most prolific opposing half passers with a success rate over 90%.
Paul Pogba might not have hit the supreme world leading heights in his debut season back at Manchester United, but a flop he most definitely is not.
Top 20 Most Prolific Passers in the Opposition’s Half This Season:
|Player||Passes Completed in Opp. Half||Pass Accuracy in Opp. Half|
|Kevin De Bruyne||910||79.13%|
Data Courtesy of EA SPORTS, the Lead Partner of the Premier League