(Reuters) – Manchester United’s former players from the famous Class of 92 are critical of midfielder Paul Pogba because he was not loyal to former manager Alex Ferguson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said.
Pogba, who came through United’s academy, left the club for free in 2012 after Ferguson fell out with the Frenchman’s agent Mino Raiola but returned following a four-year spell at Juventus for a then-world record fee in 2016.
The 26-year-old was criticised for his poor form earlier this season by former players Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, who work as television pundits, and Ibrahimovic said it stemmed from Pogba’s decision to leave United and Ferguson for Juventus.
“With Pogba, he was with United when he was young, then he went out and he came back,” Ibrahimovic, who played with Pogba at United for 1-1/2 seasons, told the Mirror.
“In the circle of Ferguson, they don’t like that because they stayed all their life under Ferguson and they never moved from Ferguson.
“They didn’t even talk if Ferguson didn’t tell them to open their mouth. So now if they’re talking, I don’t know whether Ferguson gave them permission or not.”
Despite playing a crucial role in winning the World Cup with France last year, Pogba struggled for form at United this season under former manager Jose Mourinho, who benched the midfielder towards the end of his Old Trafford tenure.
However, Pogba turned his campaign around with nine goals and seven assists in all competitions after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed caretaker boss in December.
“I think Pogba has the potential to be the best player in the world in his position,” Ibrahimovic, now with MLS side LA Galaxy, added.
“He’s a good guy, he trains hard, he listens, he wants to become better, he wants to win, he wants to perform in every game.
“Things happening outside do not really bother him because when you are at that level, everyone will speak — positive, negative, in between.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)