Danny Higginbotham believes that Michael Carrick holds the key to unlocking Paul Pogba’s full potential as a Manchester United player this season.
The Frenchman moved to Old Trafford in a deal worth £89m this past summer, as reported by Sky Sports, but has struggled to make the kind of impact that many expected.
Part of the issue has been Jose Mourinho’s inability to find the right partnership and balance in midfield, with the likes of Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini being deployed alongside Pogba, before the French international moved further up the field in an advanced position in recent outings.
However, Higginbotham believes that Carrick’s place in the team will be crucial in allowing the former Juventus star to display his full ability, as the veteran midfielder will give him the license to burst forward and dominate games, in a similar fashion to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.
“Pogba has the attributes to be a Patrick Vieira-type player. He is a lot quicker than he looks when he gets into his stride,” he noted in his column in The Sun.
“The more energy he brings to the game, the better he is, driving forward and linking up. And that’s where former England man Michael Carrick can help bring the best out of him.
“Carrick can dictate the pace of a game. He gets himself in the right positions and doesn’t have to sprint or make a last-ditch clearance. He is such a clever player. He will bring the best out of Pogba.”
It’s difficult to disagree with Higginbotham, as ultimately playing Pogba in a deeper position is limiting his influence and leaving him vulnerable.
With the protection afforded by Carrick and perhaps another in a three-man midfield, similar to what the 23-year-old was used to in Turin, he will be given the freedom to drive United forward and make a difference in the final third.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not Mourinho agrees, with the Portuguese tactician set for some tough decisions starting with the home encounter with Burnley on Saturday.