Miralem Pjanic or Paul Pogba: Who's had the better season?
Overall, its easy to make cases for both and how good theyve been this season.
When Paul Pogba joined Manchester United last summer for a world record £89 million, a lot was expected from the Frenchman. He arrived with a huge reputation as being one of the most promising young players in the world, and the world expected Pogba to take the league by storm.
Meanwhile, back in Turin, Juventus were busy buying his replacement from Roma. Miralem Pjanic may not be the most glamorous of midfielders because he doesn’t have a different haircut every week and doesn’t dab, but he’s just as good.
With both making huge moves, it begs the question of who has had the better season? Has Paul Pogba really been worth £89 million, or his Bosnian replacement excelled him back at Juventus?
Of course, the performance and success of Juventus and Manchester United have been very contrasting this season. One is top of their league, romping to a historic sixth consecutive title and on the verge of completing a domestic double as well as competing in the Champions League final.
The other will finish 6th in the Premier League and will have to win the Europa League to gain qualification to the Champions League.
Juventus have largely outplayed United this season in terms of on the field success, and Pjanic has been a huge part of that. His midfield partnership with Sami Khedira is one of the most underrated in Europe, and his passing ability being key to the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala being so prolific.
Pjanic gives Juve a different option to what they had with Pogba, who was very restricted in a midfield pair.
Max Allegri’s 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2, Pjanic is superb in both. He isn’t flashy and he doesn’t try to do back heel passes, he just tries to find the best pass for his team. Whether that be a backwards pass or a raking 40-yarder, it will never be a pass for the sake of it. It always has a purpose.
As we’ve seen at United, Jose Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 system requires two disciplined midfielders to anchor the midfield and to be a deep-lying playmaker. Pogba has yet to master either one of those skills. Pogba is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none, meaning he has the ability to do everything but is yet to really find his niche.
This season, Pogba has been key to United but this hasn’t exactly been a vintage Manchester United team. Dull, boring, slow, this side isn’t anything to get excited about and a lot of that comes on the shoulders of Paul Pogba. He’s the one who’s meant to add a bit of pace to passing from midfield, but it hasn’t seemed to work.
Pjanic has made Juve tick this season, and whilst Pogba hasn’t been awful for United, the team wouldn’t miss him as much as Juve would miss Pjanic.
Looking solely at stats, Pogba hasn’t been bad for Manchester United. In fact, he’s been quite good, but when someone costs as much as he did, you expect something a little more than just “quite good”.
Part of Pogba’s game is thriving in England, but a lot of what made him so good at Juventus hasn’t quite transferred over with him. His pass completion is quite good, making around 69.50 passes per game, but only seven big chances created is quite concerning.
If anything, the stats show that Pogba is very restricted in a rigid 4-2-3-1, and he needs a role which allows more freedom. At Juve, he was in a 3-man midfield along Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal and whilst Vidal did all the legwork and Pirlo controlled the tempo, Pogba was allowed to roam forward. United’s system doesn’t allow him to do that.
Pjanic, on the other hand, is a completely different player. His passing is more controlled, and with a pass completion rate of 85.8% across the season, it’s easy to see why he’s viewed as the controller of the Juve team. Pogba, on the other hand, does have an 85.2% pass completion rate, so the differences aren’t too far and between.
The Bosnian is more of a deeper lying midfielder, much like Xabi Alonso as he will dictate how his team plays when he’s on the ball, but won’t burst forward all that often. His 10 goals this season is a testament to how he deep he plays.
Overall, it’s easy to make cases for both and how good they’ve been this season, but with the impact he’s given to Juventus and how much of a difference he has made to this fantastic side, Miralem Pjanic has had the better season compared to Paul Pogba, who is still adapting to life in the Premier League.