If you ask this question, most people will say it’s because of his personality. That argument falls apart the second you take at a look at the history of his teammate on the French National team, Antoine Griezman. Their awards are relatively comparable as are their big personalities but, why don’t people hate Griezman as much as Pogba? Some would argue that Griezman is better so he gets a pass but, Pogba actually has the edge in both individual and team awards.
I’m going to ignore the goals and assist because a box to box midfielder like Pogba isn’t expected, nor is it remotely possible to match the stats of a forward like Griezman. Looking at team awards first, Griezman doesn’t even compare to Pogba. Griezman has never won a first division title nor has he ever won the Spanish equivalent of the FA Cup, while Pogba has won 4 league titles and the Coppa Italia twice. Both have won the Europa League and the World Cup where they both played staring roles and both have made the UEFA Champion’s League Final where they lost to Real Madrid. Unlike Griezman, Pogba won the U20 World Cup where he won the Golden Ball.
Moving on to individual awards, the race is closer but, Pogba still has the edge. While Griezman once made the podium for Ballon d’Or, finishing third, he’s also made the La Liga Team of the Season only once in his career. Pogba made the Serie A Team of the Season 3 times and was named to the PFA Premier League Team of the Season once. One of the most important awards in professional soccer is the FIFA Pro World XI, a honor never before received by Griezman, while Pogba achieved that at age 22. Both were named UEFA Europa League player of the tournament.
The fact that Pogba has an edge in both team and individual awards, the argument that Griezman gets pass because he’s a better player is null. Both Pogba and Griezman undoubtedly have big personalities but, the reason most people cite for hating Pogba is his personality. The biggest “scandals” Pogba has had in his career are his haircuts and a world record transfer fee that he had absolutely no control over. Griezman on the other hand has had a more checkered past. Griezman attended a Halloween part dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter, the issue? He did so wearing blackface. Pogba is often criticized for being a distraction at Manchester United but, Griezman publicly pushed for a move to Barcelona for 3 years. Griezman also created an entire documentary to announce he was staying at Atletico Madrid only to begin making another one a year later to announce he was leaving before Barcelona put a stop to it. Griezman has clearly been a far greater distraction to his team that Pogba.
Pogba has had more success than Griezman individually and on a team level. Griezman, rarely criticized for being a distraction, has had more off the pitch issues that were also far more serious than Pogba’s “scandals”. Time and again Pogba has been demonized while Griezman has been hailed as the golden boy of French soccer. There are 2 main differences between them: people love to hate Manchester United and the color of their skin. France has a long history of racism and some, not all, in France went as far as to refuse to claim credit for their World Cup wins in 1998 and 2018 because they believed they were “African World Cups”. This, of course, is because a large portion of both teams were of African descent. I’m not saying every individual that hates Paul Pogba does so because of his race but, people follow the lead of the media which, praises a white player with far more baggage and less success than Pogba. This isn’t just isolated to France. The same thing happens all over the world. A prime example is Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane in England.
Author: Jason Levin - 23, from Chicago. Lifelong Manchester United fan. You can find me on Instagram @jasonlevin17