Paul Pogba: What Could have been for Juventus and France star after his doping ban?

Paul Pogba’s career may have come to an end following a four-year suspension for doping, with many believing that the 30-year-old Juventus midfielder did not reach his full potential.

The ex-Manchester United player, who achieved World Cup success with France, displayed immense talent and occasional brilliance, yet struggled to maintain consistency.

He has stated his intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). If the appeal is unsuccessful, he will be 34 years old and without a club by the time he is eligible to play again in August 2027.

It will be quite a challenge for a player who has not completed 22 full league games in a season since 2018-19 to maintain fitness and motivation for an extended period.

According to French football journalist Julien Laurens, he recalled seeing him as a 15-year-old and being the best thing he had ever seen during an episode of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Euro Leagues show.

“He was incredibly talented, a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy, a brilliant mind.

“He had an impressive career, securing four Serie A titles and a World Cup victory. It’s an excellent profession. He was incredibly skilled, and I believed his potential was limitless.

“I believed he would reach the pinnacle, win Ballons d’Or, secure more trophies, and become the top player globally.

Ultimately, we will reflect on his career and likely wonder what could have been.

Pogba faced a provisional suspension in September following a drug test conducted after the first game of the season revealed increased levels of testosterone in his system.

Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal (Nado) has officially confirmed the four-year suspension, backdated to 20 August 2023 when the test was failed.

Pogba expressed his disagreement with the verdict, stating that he would never intentionally use doping substances. He stated his intention to appeal and mentioned that the full story will be revealed once he is no longer under legal restrictions.

According to Laurens, he mentioned that his friend, a doctor in Miami, provided him with some food supplements. Laurens took them without knowing their contents, which led to the situation.

“He could have simply admitted his mistake and informed Juventus’ medical staff, which might have led to a reduced sentence.”

“It’s a bit naive for him to expect less than four years just because he claimed he didn’t know he was taking it and was hoping for the best.”

Mina Rzouki, an expert in Italian football, mentioned that a player’s sentence could potentially be reduced under certain circumstances.

“It all depends on whether he can prove this was unintentional. If successful, there is a chance the ban could be reduced to two years, allowing him to potentially make a comeback.”

Laurens stated that he believes four years marks the end of his career. He is nearly 31 years old. You can increase that by four years. He has been sidelined for 18 months due to injury. It’s not just four years without football, it’s almost six years.

“I’m uncertain if he would be prepared to start over at 35.” This is how things will turn out if the ban remains in place. If it’s two years, there’s a possibility that at 33 someone offers him one final contract.

Juventus have reportedly reduced his salary to around £2,000 per month as part of a collective agreement between clubs and the players’ union.

Pogba was making £6.9m annually. Juve can terminate his contract before June 2026, which is more than a year before the four-year ban would end.

According to Italian football writer James Horncastle, Juventus have not released any official communication. According to their sporting director, they will wait for the final outcome of the process.

There is still an option to appeal to CAS. Until that is resolved, we will not receive an official statement from Juventus regarding the potential actions they may take.

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According to various measurements, Pogba enjoyed a highly successful career.

He began his career at Manchester United before transferring to Juventus, where he clinched Serie A in each of his initial four seasons at the club – securing two doubles.

In 2016, he made a comeback to United for a staggering £89m, setting a world record. During his debut season at United, he secured victories in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Pogba, who earned 91 caps for France, went on to assist Les Bleus in winning the 2018 World Cup, scoring a goal in the final as they defeated Croatia 4-2 in Russia.

During the two seasons surrounding that event, he contributed to 38 Premier League goals for United (six goals and 10 assists in 2017-18 and 13 goals and nine assists in 2018-19).

However, despite being considered a potential legend, he never came close to winning a Ballon d’Or. The two trophies he won in 2017 with United turned out to be the last of his club career.

His final three seasons at United were interrupted by injuries, and lack of form didn’t help either. His return as a free agent to Juventus 18 months ago was supposed to be a fresh beginning.

However, additional injuries and a subsequent ban upon his return to fitness have limited his playing time to just 213 minutes for the Italian club.

“It was meant to be a reunion telling a fresh narrative, a prodigal son returning to Juventus.” This summer, there was a lot of anticipation that something extraordinary would happen, according to Rzouki.

“Both the club and the player were eager to share the story of the icon’s successful comeback.” Instead, the future of a player who never quite reached his full potential will remain uncertain.

Laurens stated that the player was one of the top in the world, reaching the peak of his career in Russia with France in 2018, but not as high as he could have been. He will definitely concur with that.

“The only reason I would describe his talent as wasted is because he deserved a more successful career.”

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