When Manchester United were without the injured Paul Pogba for a couple of months earlier this season, they missed him. Badly.
The French midfielder, who cost United £89.3 million in the summer of 2016, is unquestionably one of Jose Mourinho’s most important players right now.
United are a far more dangerous side with him in their line-up - and more solid defensively, too, because of the way he retains possession combined with his ability to get up and down the pitch.
Pogba has been in fine form of late and added two assists to his tally on his last outing at Old Trafford against Stoke City last week.
Peter Crouch came on for the visitors with 20 minutes left to play and saw first-hand just how outstanding the France international really is.
CROUCH COMPARES POGBA'S PASSING TO SCHOLES
“United may be less expansive but they are solid and, aside from that, they have Paul Pogba. Like his team, he splits opinion but, God, he is class,” Crouch wrote in his latest Daily Mail column. “He’s got so much power, so much strength and speed and I haven’t seen anyone hitting passes like he did since the days of Scholes.
“I remember being used in some games as the man to try and stop Scholes. I’d come deep and try to put pressure on him but the task was impossible. Get too close, he’d knock the ball around you and be away. Give him space and he’d ping these 60 and 70-yard passes away into feet. Pogba, in his own way, was doing that on Monday.”
CROUCH THEN DROPPED TRUTH BOMB ABOUT POGBA
However, Crouch was also left with a nagging feeling that Pogba, considering the extraordinary talent he possesses, could be doing more during matches to move himself to a different level.
“Yet standing that close to him, I was left with the impression that he still has so much more to give. You can see that he finds playing football so easy and there are definitely more gears in there that he can go through.
“He has got everything. The quality of the pass he put round the corner for Anthony Martial was sublime. He could score 20 a season if he had the desire to get in the box like Frank Lampard. If he wanted to, he could sit in midfield and control the game.”
MANY UNITED FANS WILL AGREE WITH CROUCH
Plenty of United fans will agree with Crouch when he says that Pogba could be scoring 20 goals a season.
His goalscoring record since returning to Old Trafford has, let’s be honest now, been underwhelming.
He scored nine goals in 51 matches last season - five of which were scored in the Premier League - and has only found the back of the net three times in 20 games this term.
For a player with his ability in front of goal, that’s simply not good enough.
And if it is just a case of desire, like Crouch suggests it is, Pogba will be doing his talent a huge disservice if he doesn’t correct that over the coming seasons.