Serie A 2022-23 preview: Can Pogba and Juventus turn back the clock?

In a bid to return to the top, Juventus have brought back Paul Pogba, hoping the Frenchman can replicate the magic shown during his first four-year spell in Turin. After a difficult six years in Manchester, Apollo Heyes asks if can Pogba woo the Old Lady once again?

Paul Pogba, the enigmatic French midfielder, was sold by Juventus back in 2016 for €105m and was tipped for great things in the Premier League, having proven himself to be one of the most exciting players in Europe during his time in Piedmont, but things didn’t exactly go to plan with Manchester United.

Things have been difficult for the Red Devils since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and Pogba was ultimately caught up in that whirlwind, although his fairly inconsistent performances and injury troubles didn’t help matters either. He scored 39 goals and provided 51 assists in 232 appearances for United, only rarely showing his true quality.

Despite his difficulties in Old Trafford, Pogba still regularly managed to impress with the national team, playing a key role in their 2018 World Cup victory, including netting a goal in the final against Croatia.

As Pogba’s contract with United began to draw to an end back in June, it was clear that he needed a change. In this light, a return to Juventus made perfect sense for the midfielder, especially when considering their decline over the last few years.

When he left Turin in 2016, Juventus had just won their fifth consecutive Scudetto and second consecutive Coppa Italia. Massimiliano Allegri had picked up where Antonio Conte left off and the Bianconeri were clearly a force to be reckoned with, both domestically and internationally. The season after Pogba’s departure, Juventus were runners up in the Champions League.

Since 2019, however, the bonfire began to dwindle in Turin; Allegri’s departure heralded in one-year spells for both Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo and neither managed to truly maintain Juventus’ momentum in Italy, with the latter failing to bring the Scudetto to Piedmont for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

The hope was that bringing back Allegri last summer would be enough to help restore Juventus’ fortunes, but last campaign proved that there’s still a spark of magic missing, although the injury to electric winger Federico Chiesa obviously limited their offensive output as well. Looking at their situation, then, it’s understandable why they pushed to bring back Pogba.

Last month, Pogba agreed a return to Juventus and signed a four-year contract, understood to be worth around €8m net per season. His salary is reflective of his obvious importance to the club, with the expectation being that he’ll be a leading figure in their return to the summit of Italian – and possibly European – football. He certainly has the ability to do so, but other concerns could derail this.

During his six years with United, Pogba missed 89 games across all competitions due to a variety of injuries, ranging from thigh and hamstring problems to ankle and calf issues. The last time he played over 30 league games in a single season was the 2018-19 campaign and fans were often left frustrated seeing him sidelined.

Unfortunately for Pogba, these fears have been almost immediately realised in Turin; he suffered a knee injury during a training session in Juventus’ pre-season tour in the United States, and tests revealed that he’d suffered a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

There were fears that he’d be forced to undergo an operation that would’ve kept him out of action for around four to five months but after talks with an expert consultant in Lyon, he and Juventus instead elected for a more conservative treatment regiment. This will see him work in the gym and swimming pool initially, before moving into separate on-pitch training sessions. The hope is that he’ll only be sidelined for five or so weeks.

If there’s one thing that would ultimately spoil Pogba’s return to Turin, it would be injuries, as his on-pitch qualities have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, assuming he fits the system. Should he overcome this latest knee issue and maintain a healthy condition, the Frenchman could be the magician that casts a spell on the Old Lady once again.

Get the full 2022-23 Serie A season preview here.

3 Comments on “Serie A 2022-23 preview: Can Pogba and Juventus turn back the clock?”

  1. I think our limit is to finish fourth. But if Spaletti manage to present a solid Napoli we will finish fifth. Allegri has no idea how to attack, how to defend and how to develop players. I think he is the one to blame for Juventus situation first and then of course the management

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