Paul Pogba could be the World Cup’s breakout star

Poga scored seven goals in Italy's Serie A this season.

Poga scored seven goals in Italy’s Serie A this season.

At 21 years old, Paul Pogba is still operating in that intriguing space between his athletic potential and his prime, testing the limits of his actual production versus our wild projections of how great he can be.

The French-born Muslim midfielder bears a resemblance to Kevin Durant on the soccer pitch; 6-foot-1 with long limbs, he’s not the tallest player out there, but he does things with the ball that players his size normally cannot do. This season Pogba helped lead Juventus to its third straight championship in Italy’s top professional league — his second title with the club — scoring seven goals in Serie A. In December 2013, he won the “Golden Boy” award as the top young soccer player in Europe.

This summer, Pogba will take his talents to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup, where he’ll be playing for the French national team alongside fellow Muslims such as Bacary Sagna, Mamadou Sakho, Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema. France’s squad is certainly star-studded, and by the time the new kings of soccer are crowned, Pogba could be the star the world is talking about.

Soccer blog The Hard Tackle recently singled out five young players to watch during the World Cup, and Pogba was on the list. From author Rahul Ravi’s write-up:

There are some bright starlets in the French squad who would love to prove that this French squad has what it takes to replicate the success of “Class of 1998”. Paul Pogba is one bright prospect, who is sure to get tongues wagging with his athleticism and direct approach to the game. The 21 year old Frenchman has had a solid season (bagging 8 goals and 8 assists) in the Juve midfield alongside the master Andrea Pirlo. Pogba would have surely rubbed off the Italian’s influence and will look to pull the strings from midfield alongside Matuidi and Cabaye. Didier Deschamps has been there and done that (he won the World Cup as captain in 1998) and will know how to go about it and inspire the Les Bleus to their second World Cup win.

The 2014 World Cup begins on June 12. Pogba and France have been placed in Group E with Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland.

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