Jose Mourinho has admitted that Manchester United were not expecting Paul Pogba to be ‘unbelievable’ from day one, despite splashing a record £89million on the midfielder.
Pogba has failed to set the world alight since arriving at Old Trafford but Mourinho expected it would take time for the 23-year-old to adapt on his return to English football.
Mourinho insists his most expensive player will improve over the next few years, and produce top-level football for United for up to a decade, but he also hinted that the superstar could one day be converted into a central defender.
‘He has unbelievable potential, he has years and years to develop his game, so the expectation and investment from the club is exactly based on that,’ Mourinho told Sky Sports.
‘A super player for the next seven, eight years, 10 years, and getting better and better at every level – that is our expectation.
‘We don’t expect Paul to arrive here and the next day be unbelievable. But the reality is that we trust him so much that I think we pass to him this kind of feeling.
‘He is a very self confident boy too. So we are living well with the critics, if you want. And you know what the critics say.’
The Manchester United manager also played down concerns that his tactical systems are failing to get the best out of Pogba, claiming instead that his poor performances are a natural process of adapting to the Premier League.
Mourinho claimed that Pogba can play almost any position, or in any system, even saying he would make ‘a phenomenal central defender’.
‘He’s a top player and I think he could be a phenomenal central defender, with the quality of his pass, his aerial game, his agility in such a big body.
‘For the defensive side of the game, coming from the back with the ball he could be a phenomenal central defender too. So he can play in so many positions.
‘The problem is not the position, the problem is not the tactical system, the problem is, in my opinion, somebody that comes from a different football and needs time to be at his best level in the football that is really difficult to play, especially for midfield players.
‘I think it’s really difficult to play and to adapt from different realities. But he is a phenomenal player.’