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The 2018 World Cup Will Show Us Who Paul Pogba Really Is

Paul Pogba is an enigma wrapped repeatedly in a bunch of increasingly comical synonyms for enigma. And the puzzle that is Pogba will likely be solved during the 2018 World Cup. 

The France midfielder has immense talent and potential. He’s dynamic, versatile, athletic, powerful and silky smooth. It’s why Manchester United paid a then-world-record $125 million for him after letting him go for free four years earlier. 

This 18-second clip from his time at Juventus shows just how good the 2014 World Cup’s best young player can be when he’s on top of his game.

But Paul Pogba also frustrates. Sometimes it seems as though he is more interested in creating a sweet highlight reel for Instagram than doing soccer in ways that will help his team win. 

He was dropped from Jose Mourinho’s squad earlier this year. A recent poll in France said 73 percent of fans want him dropped from the starting lineup and just last week the home fans in France booed him off the pitch during a friendly against Italy after a few poor passes and whatever this was. 

So who is Paul Pogba? Is he the terrifying combination of serene technical abilities and impressive physical stature? Or is he the overrated pretty boy with cool haircuts who just wants to show off his skills without actually putting forth the effort to succeed at the top level?

The answer will come in the next month.

Embed from Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup is about a lot of things: Lionel Messi chasing Maradona’s legacy, Neymar returning from injury seeking redemption with Brazil, Germany trying to repeat, Mexico hoping it doesn’t lose in the Round of 16 again, Iceland being super cool and Americans trying to forget about the U.S. failing to qualify. But perhaps more than anything, this World Cup could belong to Paul Pogba.

Pogba has an incredible opportunity to stake his claim as one of the top five players in the world. He’s on a team loaded with talent all around him, from a stout defense to a stacked offense. With N’Golo Kante beside him in midfield, Pogba has all the freedom in the world to showcase his talents in a way that will help the French national team. 

But he has to actually go out and do it. He can’t shirk his responsibilities or shrink in big matches. He has to be the player everyone thinks he can be, not the one everyone hopes he isn’t. 

We said in September that the 2017-18 season would be the year of the Pog. He didn’t quite live up to those expectations. Now it’s time for Paul Pogba to show us who he really is. 

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