Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is nearing a long-awaited return to the pitch, much to the delight of supporters and his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In his two spells at Old Trafford, the Frenchman has witnessed an incredible roster of youths suit up for one of the most storied clubs in Europe, him being one of them.
In an interview with MUTV’s Stewart Gardner, Pogba spoke of United commemorating the 4,000th consecutive game where an Academy graduate will be listed in the first-team roster, which goes back to 1937.
“It’s unbelievable and it shows the identity of this club and the culture of this club,” the World Cup winner sad. “We’ve always talked about youth players coming into the first team and it’s just carried on. It’s something that is in this club, it’s incredible it’s been happening since 1937. You want to carry this on for the young players and the next generation to go and play in the first team.”
Pogba Is a United Academy Graduate Himself
The 26-year-old joined the United Academy program when he was 16-years-old, and spoke candidly about what it was like training with some of the best to wear the red shirt.
“When I started training with the first team, I was 17, and I remember Vida [Nemanja Vidic] was there and Ji-sung Park and I touched Vida and I saw how tough and how strong he was! I knew then I had to work hard to get into the first team. It was a really great experience as a young kid to come here at 16 and see everything so big, and see all these top players and a top manager. To be there, having them sat next to us around the training ground, was a dream come true.”
As evidenced by how often he starts the youths, Solskjaer has a lot of confidence in the Academy graduates and intends to use their services more often. For Pogba, he told the lads to take advantage of the injured first-team players to get in some worthwhile minutes on the pitch.
“Guys, be ready and always take the opportunity,” he instructed. “If they have quality to be with the first team then why not take the opportunity and play and enjoy yourself?
“This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and maybe the biggest club in history and they have the chance to be in this club. So I say to them: ‘Take your chance, play, you are young, you have quality, you have nothing to be afraid of.'”
Pogba Is Expected to Be Back in Training Next Week
United is expected to get a boost in the midfield as they kick off the second half of the Premier League next month. Per the boss, Pogba and defenders Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah will be back in training next week.
“Next week, Eric [Bailly] will start training, Tim [Fosu-Mensah] will start training, Paul will probably start training with us next week properly. So let’s see,” Solskjaer said.
Pogba hasn’t suited up for United since their 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the end of the September, nursing an ongoing ankle sprain. It was expected he would return at the beginning of the month, but United will be lucky to get the former Juventus star before the year’s end.
With his cast off and United on a comfortable winning streak, Pogba’s return can only mean even better things on the horizon at Old Trafford.