Paul Pogba’s Controversial Footballing Legacy

Pogba's B sample confirms positive doping test
Pogba's B sample confirms positive doping test

Paul Pogba’s footballing legacy will no doubt be a controversial one, especially after recent events.

The Juventus midfielder was recently found guilty of doping and has been banned from playing professional football for four years. Pogba has gone on record as being “shocked and heartbroken” by the length of the ban, one that could effectively end his career.

But what has actually happened to Pogba and how did we end up here? I’m going to go into all of the details we know about Pogba’s ban and ask what his footballing legacy will be when he hangs his boots up.

Paul Pogba’s Controversial Footballing Legacy

We’ll start with the recent events regarding Pogba’s ban, as this has been rumbling on for some time now. Pogba returned to Juventus in the summer of 2022 after his Manchester United contract expired. We’ll go more into his time at Old Trafford later, but we’ll focus on the ban for now.

Pogba’s return to Turin didn’t go to plan, as he struggled with an injury that kept him out for half the season, only making his second debut for the Bianconeri in February 2023. Poor form meant that the Frenchman never really broke into the side, ending the season with 6 Serie A appearances.

Just 23 minutes into his first starting appearance back at the Juventus Stadium, Pogba got another injury. 2022-23 was a complete write-off for Pogba, as Juventus struggled on and off the pitch. Pogba would’ve felt that he was at rock bottom, but things were about to get a whole lot worse…

Pogba was provisionally suspended by Nado Italia, the anti-doping agency in Italy, after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. A second sample was tested in October, with this also failing due to elevated testosterone.

Finally, in February of this year, Pogba was found guilty of doping and received a four-year ban from Nado Italia.

Where does Pogba’s future lie?

Pogba has maintained his innocence throughout and said that he will tell his “full story” once he’s “free of legal restricitions”. Pogba has also stated that he will appeal the Italian authorities’ decision at the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

This could reduce his four-year sentence, particularly if it transpires that he wasn’t wary that taking the substance that he did was illegal. However, without knowing any of the details other than him failing the drugs test, it’s impossible to say with any certainty if his ban will be reduced, nor by how much.

Even if his ban is for two years rather than four, that is a long time for a footballer to be out. Getting back up to speed will be very difficult, not least because of the injury problems he’s had over the past few years.

There are already rumours of Pogba going to the Saudi Pro League when he returns to football and I can easily see that being the case. Even in his mid-30s, Pogba will demand huge wages and no European Superclub will want to take a risk on him.

Plus, Pogba is a Muslim, and having one of the most high-profile Islamic footballers playing in Saudi Arabia is something the Saudis will want. They currently have Karim Benzema and have made no secrets about their interest in bringing Mohamed Salah to Riyadh.

My take on Pogba

Like I said in the intro, Pogba’s footballing legacy was always going to be a controversial one. There can be no doubt that he’s an immensely talented footballer, as he showed at Juventus after leaving Manchester United on a free transfer in 2012.

Pogba won 4 Serie A titles in a row at Juve, in addition to two Coppa Italia. He returned to Man United in 2016 for a then world-record fee of £89m. Despite injuries reducing his playing time in some seasons, Pogba did win the Europa League and EFL Cup with United.

Image credit: the busby babe sbnation

The biggest trophy of them all, though, was the World Cup in 2018, as he played a key part in Les Blues lifting the biggest piece of silverware in football for the second time. This was where Pogba’s career peaked, he was truly on top of his game.

A physical unit, he commanded the midfield on his day and was capable of both setting up and scoring goals against even the best side. The key phrase, though, is “on his day”, as Pogba did come under fire for “going missing” at times during his second stint at Old Trafford.

If his career ends today or he never plays professional football again, there will very much be a feeling of “what could’ve been” when it comes to Paul Pogba. The fact remains though, is that he won silverware at Manchester United and Juventus and the World Cup with France.

No matter what comes from his appeal, nobody can take that away from him and despite these troubles, he’s had a career that many professional footballers can only dream of.

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