Pogba relishing Juventus reunion

Paul Pogba returns to Juventus today for the first time since leaving the Italian club for Manchester United in 2016. The two clubs are meeting in the Champions League for a second time this season. Juventus won the first Group H encounter 1-0.
Paul Pogba returns to Juventus today for the first time since leaving the Italian club for Manchester United in 2016. The two clubs are meeting in the Champions League for a second time this season. Juventus won the first Group H encounter 1-0.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Paul Pogba is champing at the bit for his first return to Juventus since leaving the seven-time defending Italian champions for Manchester United for a then world-record £89 million (S$159 million) fee in 2016.

The France midfielder, whose four-season spell at Juventus saw him lift four Serie A titles and two Italian Cups, told French radio station RMC he had fond memories of his time at the Allianz Stadium and regarded Turin as his "home".

The World Cup winner also called today's Champions League Group H meeting "mad" and said he had an inkling United would be drawn in the same group as Juventus.

"For me, it's a pleasure, that's where I scored my first professional goal," said Pogba, who revealed that he had kept in touch with his former teammates.

"(Juan) Cuadrado, (Paulo) Dybala, (Leonardo) Bonucci... I hear from them, we speak from time to time. We were a family, so of course we stay in contact."

Although United are five points adrift of the group leaders and were outplayed two weeks ago in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri remains wary of his former player.

The Italian also shot down transfer speculation linking Pogba to a possible return to Juventus after his much-publicised spat with United manager Jose Mourinho, who stripped him of captaincy duties earlier in the campaign.

"Talking about Pogba is useless," Allegri told the Daily Express. "Like all players not part of Juventus, I cannot and I do not want to talk about players from other teams.

"Pogba is young and still has room for improvement, now he is a player of Manchester and, unfortunately on Wednesday, we have to meet him. If he does not come, it would be better."

Like Pogba, who told RMC that the Champions League is "a trophy I always have in mind", teammate Alexis Sanchez is another who would love to get his hands on silverware to shut up his critics.

The Chile forward has endured a torrid start to his Red Devils career since moving in a swop deal with Arsenal in January, but hinted at better things to come with an impressive display in a central role over the weekend.

The injured Romelu Lukaku missed the 2-1 Premier League win at Bournemouth on Saturday and Sanchez was instrumental in setting up the in-form Anthony Martial for their first-half equaliser.

And, with the Belgium striker woefully out of form, having not scored since Sept 15, Sanchez could start in attack again alongside Martial, who scored against the Cherries - the fourth straight league match he has found the net.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2018, with the headline 'Pogba relishing Juventus reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe