Graeme Souness delivers scathing new criticism of Paul Pogba following drug ban | OneFootball

Graeme Souness delivers scathing new criticism of Paul Pogba following drug ban | OneFootball

Icon: 90min


·1 March 2024

Graeme Souness delivers scathing new criticism of Paul Pogba following drug ban

Article image:Graeme Souness delivers scathing new criticism of Paul Pogba following drug ban

Paul Pogba has come in for further criticism from pundit and ex-Liverpool star Graeme Souness after receiving a four-year ban from football for doping offences.

The Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping's decision to hand Pogba a four-year sentence for a positive testosterone test was confirmed on Thursday, though the midfielder plans to make an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

OneFootball Videos

He remains under contract with Juventus until 2026 though the club have not made a decision on whether to terminate this deal yet.

During his time with Manchester United, Pogba was regularly criticised by Souness, who at the time was part of Sky Sports' regular rotation of pundits. The former Scotland international was fiercely critical of Pogba's work rate and not doing enough to help United in big games.

In a column for the Daily Mail, Souness explained why he was so harsh on Pogba, but that failing a drugs test is a new low.

"I criticised Paul Pogba often during his career and some people seemed to take amusement from it. But it was only sadness that I felt this week, when I learned that he has been banned from football for four years, for a doping offence," Souness wrote.

"For me, there really was never any doubt about Pogba's ability. What I saw in him was a player with great technical ability and physique who had the potential to be one of the best midfield players our sport had ever known.

"It was his lack of honesty and poor effort levels which always frustrated me. Frankly, he was lazy. Someone with the extreme talent he possessed should perform in a way which means he is remembered as one of the best players in the world, long after has left the stage.

"Instead, he wasted his career. Having won the World Cup with France in Russia, in 2018, he allowed himself to get into his armchair and was never fully committed to the cause of being a team player."

Souness added: "I can remember going to watch him play for Juventus in the Bernabeu where Juventus were playing Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final second leg in 2015. Jamie Redknapp had been raving about him.

"He told me: 'Wait till you see him play'. I was doing the game with Thierry Henry and Jamie and though he didn't really do it for me that night, I did see a young man with enormous potential, who could be one of the greats.

"We saw a glimpse of that three years later, in his performances for France at that 2018 World Cup. He played in virtually the entire tournament, missing only the last of France's group stage games, and I have to say that he surprised me with his discipline and industry throughout.

"Suddenly, he wasn’t playing for Paul Pogba but as part of an overall team plan. There were times out there when we saw him tracking back with the same intensity that he showed when running forward. By scoring France's third goal in the final against Croatia, he effectively sealed the trophy.

"I was still surprised to find him linked with a move to Manchester City later that same summer. I said at the time that I felt Pogba probably had more natural talent, if not more, than Bernardo Silva or Kevin De Bruyne.

"But who would you rely on to carry out most of the manager's instructions for the full 90 minutes? It was a rhetorical question. That's where the tragedy always resided with this player."

To conclude, Souness said: "He is 30 years old and we won't see him at an elite level again. A desperately sad ending to the career of someone who had the world at his feet and might still have been talked about, 20, 30 or 40 years from now."

View publisher imprint