Manchester United cannot afford to lose Paul Pogba to injury again if they want to achieve anything this season, Paul Merson has claimed.
The Frenchman made his first appearance for 67 days last Saturday in a 4-1 win against Newcastle. He was subbed off in the second half, and the same happened against FC Basel in a 1-0 defeat in midweek in the UEFA Champions League.
He played the full 90 minutes in Man United’s 1-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion, despite manager Jose Mourinho telling reporters pre-match that he wasn’t ready to play a full game yet.
Merson explained how much the 24-year-old impacts United, and how another injury could affect the Reds.
“These are a different team when Pogba is playing in it,” Merson said on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday.
“You watch them at the start of the season, they were beating teams threes and fours and when he was out of the team they were struggling to score goals. He comes straight back into the team, four.
“I’m a big fan of his, I was surprised he played [against Basel] if I’m being honest, I was surprised he played because they are solid in that group.
“I just think he is a big player and you cannot afford for him to get injured.
“If they are going to have anything to do this season, any big season, he has to stay fit. He’s
the one player out of everybody in United’s team that has to stay fit.”
United struggled without Pogba. With him, the team looks more balanced. It was a risk to play Pogba for the full game against Brighton, but one that Mourinho will be able to justify given United finished 1-0 winners and Pogba appears to be fine.