Paul Pogba opens up on ‘biggest test of my life’ and ‘non-sporting problems’ at Juventus

Paul Pogba has described the 2022/23 season as the hardest of his life, further discussing his return to Juventus, the injuries he has faced, his mental health and other issues away from the pitch.

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There was huge excitement amongst the Juventus fan base when it was confirmed in the summer of 2022 that Paul Pogba would be returning from the club on a free transfer from Manchester United.

The best club football in the Frenchman’s career had been played during his first spell with Juventus between 2012 and 2016. He then made his return to Manchester United where, despite some memorable performances and the occasional trophy, Pogba did not make good on his potential and his £89 million fee.

Despite now having been back at Juventus for a year now, Pogba is going to feel like another new signing for the Bianconeri fans when the 2023/24 season gets underway. He has been plagued by serious injuries, and he has opened up to French magazine Views about the mental side of the 2022/23 season.

Juventus’ Paul Pogba. (@juventusfcen)

The link between body and mind for Pogba

There hasn’t really been a single part of the season where Paul Pogba has not had immense physical issues to deal with. He picked up a meniscal injury during pre-season after coming back to Juventus, which later required knee surgery. It was already clear that he would play, at the very best, half of the season.

As is so commonly the case, the surgery and the recovery period led to other areas of the World Cup winner’s body struggling, and he picked up a string of smaller injuries throughout the second half of the season that meant he only made 11 appearances in all competitions, with almost all of those coming from the bench.

There were particularly heart-wrenching scenes when he was forced off against Cremonese, having started the game and been central to Juventus‘ best work. It was his first Serie A start since May 2016, and it looked like he could mark it with a great performance. He was in floods of tears as he was taken down the tunnel, and his quotes to Views suggest a lot of mental turmoil was involved in those scenes.

“It was the biggest test of my life. These last few months have made me grow enormously. I have grown ten years in seven months. When you are not well in the head, the body follows you,” Pogba said.

“And so all these injuries that happened to me, I think it all came from my head. Really, it was my head. And afterwards, when I realised all this, I was really able to react, I took a step back and thought about myself and my wellbeing.

“To be healthy and to play, that’s all I ask for. This season has been a great experience for me, which can only be useful for the future. I changed teams, I had injuries. It’s true that it has been complicated, even outside football. But I learnt that the important things for me are health, playing football and family, and to really focus on that. My body is my working tool and the biggest luxury you can have in life is health.”

Pogba references ‘non-sporting problems’ at Juventus

Whilst Paul Pogba has been dealing with his own mental and physical battles away from the pitch, there have been plenty of battles for Juventus as an entity throughout the campaign. The capital gains and salary manoeuvres investigations have been the backdrop to the whole season.

In the end, they were handed a 10-point penalty that left them finishing seventh in Serie A, as well as a big fine. There could be yet more punishment to come from UEFA in the near future, too, meaning there could be no European football at all.

When talking about how hard the season was, Pogba’s quotes suggest that the legal issues of the club were certainly a factor in what made things so tough for him.

“The most difficult season? Yes. Just changing teams. Coming back here, to Juventus. The injuries. The non-sporting problems. Ah, surely that was the biggest test. The greatest of my life. After overcoming all that, it will be my greatest victory. That’s how I see it: when you go through that, you’re ready for anything,” Pogba explained.

Pogba is going to be remaining at the club this summer with Juventus not wishing to cut their losses on what could now be a very injury-prone player. There were glimpses during the season that Pogba can be a star for this Juventus side, and he is only 30 years old.

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