POGBA PROVES HIS WORTH

Win­ning Europa tro­phy helps ease bur­den of world record price tag

New Straits Times - - Sport -

STOCK­HOLM record trans­fer fee with the open­ing goal in their Europa League win over Ajax Am­s­ter­dam on Wed­nes­day which gave them a place in next season’s lu­cra­tive Cham­pi­ons League.

Pogba, who re­joined the 20times English cham­pi­ons last sum­mer from Ju­ven­tus for £89 mil­lion (RM489.5 mil­lion), fired United ahead in the 18th minute in Stock­holm helped by a mas­sive de­flec­tion off Colom­bian de­fender Davin­son Sanchez.

Hen­rik Mkhi­taryan added the sec­ond three min­utes af­ter the break to kill off Ajax, who fielded the youngest ever start­ing lineup in a Euro­pean fi­nal with an av­er­age age of 22.

As well as strik­ing the scrappy opener, the en­er­getic Pogba popped up all over the pitch, form­ing an ef­fec­tive mid­field tri­dent with Marouane Fel­laini and An­der Her­rera, out­muscling and nul­li­fy­ing the in­ex­pe­ri­enced Dutch side.

It was no man of the match per­for­mance — that hon­our went to Her­rera — and not ex­actly the glitzy dis­play United smashed the trans­fer record for, but Pogba’s de­ci­sive role will help ease the pres­sure on him af­ter an un­der­whelm­ing first season at Old Traf­ford for both the France in­ter­na­tional and the team.

It will also help United’s cof­fers. The club earned €6.5 mil­lion (RM30.6 mil­lion) for beat­ing Ajax, three mil­lion more than their op­po­nents, and will col­lect €12.7 mil­lion for en­ter­ing

earned by Manch­ester United for win­ning

Europa League the group stage of the Cham­pi­ons League.

An ad­di­tional €1.5 mil­lion is up for grabs for each win in the Cham­pi­ons League group stage, while reach­ing the last 16 would bring an ex­tra wind­fall of €16 mil­lion.

“The goal was to win all the way through this season. We’ve done it, and we’re proud,” Pogba said. “Peo­ple say we’ve had a bad season but the prize is great and we’ve done it now. We have three tro­phies so en­joy it now. No­body can talk.”

Pogba also played in the League Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Southamp­ton at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium but missed the Com­mu­nity Shield win over last season’s Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter City hav­ing only just joined the Old Traf­ford club from Juve. Reuters

EPA PIC

Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho cel­e­brates with his staff and in­jured play­ers Luke Shaw (right), Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic (sec­ond from right) and Ash­ley Young in Stock­holm on Wed­nes­day.

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