Paul Pogba is capable of being one of the best players in the world, but his “lack of commitment” distracts from his talent, says Gary Neville.
United spent £89 million ($116m) to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2016, having overseen his departure while he was still a teenager four years earlier.
The France international transformed into a superb all-round midfielder during his time in Turin, and has shown flashes of the same form since making his way back to Manchester.
However, Pogba has been unable to deliver the goods on a consistent basis in the Premier League, leading to questions over his attitude and fitness levels.
The World Cup winner’s future has also been the subject of constant speculation over the past few years, with rumours of a potential switch to Real Madrid often overshadowing his exploits on the pitch.
The 27-year-old even expressed a desire to leave United last summer, before being convinced to stay by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the 2019-20 campaign proved to be another frustrating year for the mercurial playmaker.
The Red Devils were forced to make do without Pogba for most of the season as he recovered from an ankle injury, with his main contribution coming post-lockdown as Solskjaer’s men secured a third-place finish in the Premier League.
Neville has no doubt about the Frenchman’s ability, but believes the off-field drama he attracts continues to provide an unwelcome distraction for a club bidding to return to the elite stage.
“For me, Paul Pogba has the capability of being the best player at the club and one of the best players in the Premier League and the world,” the ex-United captain told the Webby and O’Neil YouTube channel.
“My only issue ever with Pogba – I’ve never really been overly critical of his performances – is the noise around him wanting to leave the club and his agent pushing him elsewhere.
“It’s that lack of commitment which for me does distract. It happened when I was at the club as well so it’s not unique.
“But it does need to be dealt with because when your most famous player looks like he wants to leave, it unsettles everybody.”
Neville is, however, confident that United are heading in the right direction under Solskjaer, and sees the club emerging as a major force again in the near future if they can continue to make intelligent moves in the transfer market.
He added: “Now, with coronavirus, with [Bruno] Fernandes signing, with the players coming through… Manchester United’s team, with the right two or three additions, could be a brilliant team in two or three years.
“There is an emergence of a really good group of players who could build a fantastic team.”