Heading into the Manchester derby, the French World Cup winner has been in decent form and is expected to depart on a free transfer this summer
Long after Paul Pogba has left Manchester United the same questions will be asked about his second stint at Old Trafford after signing from Juventus for £100 million ($134m) in 2016.
Was it a success or a huge failure?
In the four weeks since he returned from his most recent injury, the World Cup winner has produced the kind of performances that typify his six-year tenure at United.
There have been moments of brilliance and moments of dominance followed by long spells ingames where he has been anonymous.
His inconsistency means that the fanbase will be divided on their conclusions about the playmaker when he inevitably moves on this summer.
“I have been a big critic of Paul,” club legend Paul Scholes told Premier League Productions last week. “You don’t know what you are going to get with Paul. But when he is on his game, he is brilliant. But then when he isn’t, then against your Liverpool and Man Citys, you might struggle in those areas. Where do Man United go next year to replace him?”
A midfielder is top of United’s shopping list when the transfer window opens in the summer and, with no signature on the fresh terms which were laid out for the 28-year-old before the start of this campaign, there is the expectation that they are looking for someone to replace the France international rather than accompany him.
But, as Scholes states, how do United go about replacing an ‘in-form’ Pogba? On his day he is one of the best midfielders in the world. The ease with which he can stroll through a midfield and pick a pass is not replicated by any other player in the squad.
Manager Ralf Rangnick said Pogba would be returning to the squad with a point to prove to his next potential employers and on the whole, in the seven games in which he has featured since coming back, that is what he has done.
He has reminded everyone of his ability to control games and his skill has been shown in moments of ridiculous quality – topped off by that impudent flick against Leeds a couple of weeks ago.
If he was producing those performances for 90 minutes every match there would be no debate about his United legacy. The problem is he doesn’t seem capable.
The issue of consistency plagues the debate. Against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 first leg, particularly in the first half, he was dreadful.
If he does, as expected, leave in the summer he will be missed as much off the pitch as on it. Pogba is known to be one of the most friendly and popular members of the squad, who has time for everyone and is a welcoming presence at the training ground.
His meetings with Rangnick are understood to have gone well and the pair have a good working relationship despite the German manager knowing the likelihood of the midfielder leaving.
“He wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world what kind of player he can be. Even if its only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that,” Rangnick said.
This weekend presents a perfect opportunity for Pogba to show to potential future employers what he is capable of. On his day he can be the man to turn the game in Manchester United’s favour but off his best he can be a weak link.