Football: Don't expect Pogba fireworks, says Mourinho

A file photo shows France's midfielder Paul Pogba.
A file photo shows France's midfielder Paul Pogba.PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has warned supporters not to expect too much of Paul Pogba, who he does not believe is capable of scoring 20 goals a season.

Pogba, 23, will make his second United debut in Friday's (Aug 19) home game with Southampton, having returned to the club in a world-record £89 million (S$157 million) move from Juventus.

Pogba makes no secret of his desire to usurp Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by winning the Ballon d'Or, but Mourinho believes that as a midfielder, it will be difficult for him to steal their limelight.

"I'm not expecting him, the first time he touches the ball, to dribble five guys and score a wonder goal," Mourinho said on Thursday (Aug 18) when asked what kind of impact Pogba will make.

"I expect him, the first time he touches the ball, to have a correct pass, a good selection of pass, a good choice, a good, simple execution and (keep) the game fluid.

"So maybe it's not an 'impact', maybe it's just a natural improvement of the team, because he's a super football player."

Pogba, who left United in 2012, scored 34 goals in his four years at Juventus - an average of 8.5 per season.

On the chances of him reaching Ronaldo and Messi's level, Mourinho said: "First of all, when you speak about the best players in the world, you go immediately to the ones that score a lot of goals.

"You don't give a Golden Ball to a goalkeeper. You gave a Golden Ball to (Fabio) Cannavaro once, but because in that season he was the captain of Italy, the world champions, and there were not many (other) top players.

"(Paolo) Maldini never got a Golden Ball. (Javier) Zanetti never got a Golden Ball. Top goalkeepers over history didn't get a Golden Ball, so you look immediately to the ones that score a lot of goals.

"Can Paul score the same number of goals as Ronaldo and Messi? Not even 25 per cent, I believe. I believe in a season he cannot score 20 goals.

"So, if to be the best player in the world means to score a lot of goals, that's not the point. He is one of the best midfield players, maybe I could say the best midfield player in the world."