Nemanja Matic: Thriving From The Paul Pogba Effect

Alex Caple

The highest praise for Man United’s signing of Nemanja Matic this summer was really just “we’ll see how it goes”.

£50m on a player that Chelsea didn’t want, who had been so unbelievably disappointing in Mourinho’s final Chelsea season, seemed outlandish to say the least – even if United were crying out for a holding player. It’s still early days, but Matic has shut down a lot of the doubt already, looking like the player United hoped for. He’s really feeling the Paul Pogba effect.

It almost went completely unnoticed, but United spending roughly £90m on Pogba only for him to fail to even be in the running for Player of the Year last season was a little embarrassing. This year, however, he looks a player and it would be quite surprising, even at this early stage, if he didn’t rectify last seasons embarrassment.

A lot has been made of the arrival of Matic allowing Pogba more freedom, thus leading to better performances, and that’s true, but the opposite is also very evident. Matic, along with the rest of United, is benefiting from Pogba playing his real role.

If you spend a World record fee on a player then you’re expecting someone who can do it on their own (see Zidane, Ronaldo, and now Neymar), but that isn’t Pogba. Pogba is a different player to the rest in that it’s not obvious to pin down his world-class strengths.

Can Pogba dribble? Definitely, but he’s never going to be Messi at 6ft+. He can shoot for sure, but again he’s not going to provide 20 or 30 a season. He’s a fantastic passer, but hardly Iniesta. He’s definitely a target up top, but not in the same way as Manchester United Superstar Marouane Fellaini. Defensively too, Pogba has the energy and physicality to contribute defensively, although he’s a waste as a defensive player.

Pogba is a top class player who cannot do it on his own – but he doesn’t have to. He’s the ultimate team player, able to do a bit of everything with the utmost competence, ultra reliable in bringing the entire team together. He can help out the defence, he can always offer for a pass, he can find space himself or find others in space. He can drive forward into the box or play someone in – and he can do it all in one game.

That’s what the £90m was for: if you have the players and want a team, throw in Pogba – his teammates will thrive. It’s clear throughout the side, but Matic is a great example. He’s a player who feels most comfortable sitting deep, defending, knowing his duties. He did, however, have a good season last year with a bit more freedom, but Pogba allows him to do what he does best, to be the exact player United needed.

Pogba is defensive help, he’s a constant outball, and he’s the extra energy that Matic needs, all in one incredibly-expensive-at-the-time-but-not-so-much-now player. He’s the dream for players who just want to get on with what they get on with and not have to worry about being too much of a team player – just ask Lukaku.

Paul Pogba may not have obvious world-class strengths, but he’s the greatest team player in the world and he’ll win you titles.

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