How Paul Pogba went from hero to zero: From a blockbuster £89m Man United move and World Cup glory to injuries, extortion and a failed drugs test which could end his career

Even by Paul Pogba standards, it was a pretty manic Monday. Over breakfast, we read that the Frenchman considered quitting football after falling victim to an extortion plot allegedly involving his brother. By dinner, he was facing a four-year ban for failing a drugs test.

If the 30-year-old is hit with the maximum punishment, his career could be over after all.

It is one that reached the highs of a World Cup triumph with France in 2018, following a world-record £89million transfer to Manchester United two years earlier, yet still feels unfulfilled after wretched second spells at Old Trafford and Juventus.

It was notable that Pogba tested positive for testosterone after a game in which he did not play, Juve’s 3-0 win away to Udinese last month. Pogba does not play much these days.

His first season back in Turin — where he won four Serie A titles and reached the Champions League final first time around — brought just 10 appearances and one start due to a knee injury that kept him out of France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar.

Paul Pogba failed a drugs test following Juventus’ first game of the season last month

Pogba's career reached the highs of a World Cup triumph with France in 2018

Pogba’s career reached the highs of a World Cup triumph with France in 2018 

The 30-year-old endured wretched second spells at Manchester United and Juventus

The 30-year-old endured wretched second spells at Manchester United and Juventus

When he finally did make the line-up in Juve’s penultimate home game against Cremonese in May, he lasted only 23 minutes before going down with a thigh injury and making a tearful exit.

He has managed two appearances off the bench this season, but it was as an unused substitute on August 20 that he was selected for a random test that came back positive.

Pogba is now waiting on the B sample as he faces a two-year ban that could be doubled if it is proven he took the drug deliberately. It is the latest in a series of dramatic events that have seen Pogba’s career decline alarmingly since he conquered the world with France five years ago.

His relationship with Jose Mourinho — and, increasingly, the United fanbase — was already beginning to sour, even if it was the manager who left first after stripping Pogba of the vice- captaincy and dropping him to the bench at Liverpool for his last game in charge. Pogba has since claimed his fall-out with Mourinho left him suffering from depression.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a more sympathetic approach, indulging the midfielder’s days off, foreign jaunts and all-too- regular rehab sessions in Miami and Dubai.

But Pogba could not repay his manager’s trust on the pitch and infuriated fans by continually flirting with Real Madrid as he ran down his contract.

By the time he left United on a free transfer for the second time last summer, following a hugely disappointing return which cost United £219m over six years, Juve were his best option.

Pogba’s personal life was in turmoil by then. His agent and close friend Mino Raiola passed away in April 2022 following a battle with cancer. Raiola’s lawyer, Rafaela Pimenta, has taken over and it is just as well because the player has needed all the legal help he can get.

It was Pimenta who issued a few words on Pogba’s behalf late on Monday, saying: ‘The certain thing is that Paul Pogba never wanted to break the rules.’

A year ago came the revelations that Pogba had been targeted by an organised crime gang.

Four days after his home in Hale, Cheshire, was raided by burglars who threatened his wife Zulay and their two young boys, the player was confronted by two hooded thugs brandishing assault rifles after he was lured to a flat in the suburbs of Paris.

They demanded £11m in protection money and threatened to blackmail him over a video, allegedly supporting a bizarre claim that Pogba paid a witch doctor to cast a spell on his France team-mate Kylian Mbappe as he was stealing his limelight.

Pogba admitted paying the witch doctor but insisted it was to try to cure injuries. His brother Mathias went public, threatening to reveal ‘explosive’ information about the player and Mbappe, before he was arrested and charged over the plot.

Pogba's brother Mathias (left) spent three months in prison last year for his alleged role in the extortion plot against France and Juventus footballer Paul

Pogba’s brother Mathias (left) spent three months in prison last year for his alleged role in the extortion plot against France and Juventus footballer Paul 

The former Wrexham and Crewe player spent three months in prison before he was released on the condition that he does not contact his brother. The 33-year-old denies any wrongdoing.

Four others — believed to be childhood friends of the Pogbas — are also under investigation for extortion and criminal association. ‘Money changes people,’ Pogba told Al Jazeera this week. ‘It can break up a family, it can create a war. Sometimes I was by myself thinking, “I don’t want to have money any more, I just don’t want to play any more”.’

That decision may now be taken out of Pogba’s hands. Juventus have hardly come out fighting in his defence, fuelling claims it may suit them to tear up his contract.It has turned into a sad and rather unseemly return to Turin for such a gifted footballer.

In Manchester, they know how that feels.


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Source From: Serie A News, Fixtures and Results | Mail Online

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