When Manchester United lost Paul Pogba last summer it was a huge blow to the club. The teenage midfielder had arrived in Manchester from Le Havre in 2009 in somewhat controversial circumstances amid a ‘tapping up’ scandal between the two clubs.
However the youngster grew tired of reserve team football and left Old Trafford for pastures new in 2012 by signing a free transfer with Italian champions Juventus.
Since then he has come on leaps and bounds - becoming an integral member of the first team and scoring the odd spectacular goal here and there.
Now he is a regular in the team and also a regular for the French national side and considered one of the world’s top footballing talents.
And that is now official.
He has followed in the footsteps of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas by being awarded the Golden Boy award as the most outstanding talent under the age of 21 in Europe this year.
The Frenchman was one of the favourites for the award - along with Arsenal target Julian Draxler and Everton loanee Romelu Lukaku - and picked up what is probably a deserved accolade last night.
And he has spoken about his ‘golden year’ to Tuttosport - the Italian publication that organises the award:
“I’m flattered and proud to receive this prestigious trophy. Having won the League for the first time, got as far as the quarter-finals in the Champions League, won the Under-20 World Cup with France and been promoted to the first team by Coach Deschamps, 2013 really was a golden year for me. I just hope that 2014 is the same!”
It must make United fans sick as a dog to see him doing so well when they had him in their clutches for so long.
But perhaps the lessons learned, which saw Adnan Januzaj quickly tied down to a long-term deal, might be the real benefit at Old Trafford.
image: © Romana Correale