Luke Shaw has hailed Paul Pogba as a “beast” after returning to action in time for Manchester United’s opening day win over Leicester City last Friday.
The midfielder reunited with the Man United squad just three days before their meeting with Leicester after playing a central role in France’s triumphant World Cup campaign.
But he was nonetheless given the armband by Jose Mourinho and produced a typically all-encompassing midfield display, tucking away a penalty after three minutes.
Speaking after the game, Shaw enthused at the way Pogba was able to come straight back into the starting XI.
“Paul doesn’t need a break,” he said. “Honestly, he’s a beast! He’s unbelievable. He only came back three or four days before the game and it just shows how important he is for the team.”
“He was captain and is a very, very big leader in the dressing room, as you’ll have seen that in the videos from France [at the World Cup] of course.
“For me, he’s helped me a lot – we’ve spoken a bit. He’s a wonderful guy and an even better player on the pitch. Honestly, he’s so important for us. Like I said, he’s only been here for three or four days and to put in a performance like that was unbelievable.
“It’s nice to have him in the team and around the place – he cheers everyone up and gives good vibes. For me, he’s one of the most important players, probably in the Premier League – he’s got everything.
“I’m glad to be able to play with him and I hope we can share some good memories together this season.”
Fitness is important at this level, of course. You need a certain level of bodily strength and cardiovascular endurance to keep yourself going in a ferocious Premier League game.
But for top players, like Pogba, that is generally. The challenge for senior footballers is to marry that physical power with technical ability. A proper player can launch a pass or beat an opponent with the same dexterity and execution in the 88th minute that they managed in the third. That is what training – and pre-season – is all about.
There are some players, however, who are simply un-teachably brilliant, and can do this without really trying. Eric Cantona was like this. Paul Gascoigne, Edgar Davids, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi are all other examples. And make no mistake: Pogba fits into this category as well.