Chelsea legend Frank Lampard said he doesn’t know what kind of player Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba can be because he focuses too much on his flair rather than being tactically sound.
Lampard, the Chelsea legend and BT Sport analyst, said Pogba should be able to score at least 15 goals a season if he were to listen to manager Jose Mourinho and better utilise his natural talent.
“I don’t know what Paul Pogba quite is,” Lampard said at a sponsor’s event ahead of the teams’ meeting in the FA Cup final on Saturday. “He makes bad decisions as a midfield player — bad basic decisions — and then he does something really fantastic, and I can imagine that wrecking Jose Mourinho’s head, because he’s going, ‘Well, I want you in my team for that fantastic stuff, but then there’s other stuff that’s really not good for the team.’
“So, Mourinho’s only way to deal with it is to … shock him and embarrass him out of it. He said, ‘Well, I’m going to call you out’ a few times midseason, and I’m not sure Pogba got the point.”
Pogba, in his second season back at United after a then-record £89.3 million transfer from Juventus in summer 2016, was occasionally dropped from the starting XI by Mourinho in February and March — including for the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie against Sevilla — in an attempt to send him a message.
A brace against Manchester City on April 7 that delayed United’s rivals from wrapping up the Premier League title earned the France international plenty of praise, but his inconsistent form has continued.
“Paul Pogba is naturally more talented than I was,” said Lampard, who was the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2005 and was named to the PFA Team of the Year three times. “In the box, I could get it and I worked hard to score goals, but in terms of attributes, he would have run all over me.
“He’s got better feet in terms of how he can dribble it — but there’s no point in dribbling in your own half if you’re a midfield player unless you really have to [in order] to get out of trouble, so all that kind of flick and roll with the studs and all that stuff looks great, [but] I’m not a big advocate [of] that. … A lot of young players go, ‘Oh my God, look at that on YouTube. That’s amazing.’ I don’t like it. He has delved to that side too much. I just know that if he was to actually catch the drift of what Mourinho wants, I feel he could actually be that player.”
Pogba has said he believes he is judged differently from other players as his goals and assists are constantly scrutinised by analysts.
He has scored six goals this season, all in the Premier League, after scoring nine in all competitions in 2016-17 — and Lampard is among those who think he should be more productive.
“His numbers are not good enough,” Lampard said. “I’m worried that Pogba can dominate that midfield. For all I say there, he’s got it in him to do that and he should be getting 15 goals a season and assists and dominating midfield because he has everything.”
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.