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Manchester United's Paul Pogba lacks 'basic understanding' to become top-class midfielder, says Graeme Souness

The 24-year-old is currently serving a three-game domestic ban

  • Jack Austin
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The Independent Sport


Pogba has been in fine form since his return from injury Getty

Graeme Souness believes Paul Pogba lacks the ‘basic understanding’ to play central midfielder and believes Manchester United’s record transfer will never become a top-class player.

United’s season has so far hinged on the fitness of Pogba, with their performances plummeting while the 24-year-old was out for seven weeks with a hamstring injury but picking up once he returned to full fitness.

His red card during the 3-1 victory over Arsenal overshadowed a marvellous display where he contributed two assists before receiving his marching orders which carry a three-game ban, ruling him out of this weekend’s Manchester derby.

Manchester United vs CSKA Moscow player ratings

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Manchester United vs CSKA Moscow player ratings

    • 1/11 Sergio Romero – 7

      Helpless for CSKA’s goal. Prevented Alan Dzagoev from scoring a late equaliser.

    • 2/11 Victor Lindelof – 7

      Didn’t need to be as impressive as he was against Watford and Arsenal but this was another good performance.

    • 3/11 Chris Smalling – 7

      Should’ve equalised for United but put his header wide at the far post before Lukaku and Rashford spared his blushes.

    • 4/11 Daley Blind – 6

      His first outing of the season in a back three and wasn’t troubled.

    • 5/11 Antonio Valencia – 6

      A solid display by the skipper before he was substituted in the second half with Sunday’s Manchester derby in mind.

    • 6/11 Ander Herrera – 6

      An all-action display by the Spaniard but he lacks Paul Pogba’s quality, which could hinder United in Sunday’s derby.

    • 7/11 Paul Pogba – 7

      Not his best overall display in recent weeks but provided a lovely assist for Lukaku’s equaliser.

    • 8/11 Luke Shaw – 7

      Superb going forward in the first half but lost his runner in the build-up to the visitors’ opener. Struggled with his fitness towards the end of the match.

    • 9/11 Juan Mata – 8

      Capable of producing magical moments and did so numerous times tonight, most notably setting Rashford up for the game’s winning goal.

    • 10/11 Romelu Lukaku – 7

      The Belgian’s energy has improved in recent matches and he took his goal well.

    • 11/11 Marcus Rashford – 8

      Caused big problems for CSKA all night and ended his goal drought with a superb left-footed strike.

    Pogba also featured in the win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night but Souness criticised the Frenchman for failing to track back and questioned his ability to reach the very top.

    “When he is on the ball, there’s lots of things to admire. He’s powerful, he’s got good technique, he can wrong foot people, he can ping the ball,” Souness told Irish television channel TV3.

    “Where I question him, whether he'll ever be a top player, is his understanding of the game. This isn’t me being an ex-Liverpool player caning a Man United player. I thought the same when he was a Juventus player.

    • Read more

    Pogba: I would stop playing if I thought United could not catch City

    “That is basic stuff you learn in the youth team. He's 24 years old if he's not got it now when is he going to get it?

    “He hasn't taken a big game by the scruff of the neck and dominated it. He hasn't got a basic understanding of his position, I can't see that changing.”

    • More about:
    • Graeme Souness
    • Paul Pogba
    • Manchester United

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