Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insists that Paul Pogba “belongs at the same level” as the top players of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The Reds suffered a first defeat during Tour 2017, presented by Aon, at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday, going down to Neymar’s first-half effort in Washington DC, having beaten European champions Real Madrid on penalties on Sunday.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after the game against the Catalans, Mourinho was asked about the quality of the opposition during this summer’s trip to America. And although he admitted it was “beautiful” to watch Barça’s stars from the touchline, the boss reserved special praise for Pogba.
“With Messi and Neymar, there is only one [of each], there are not two,” he said. “Suarez, Iniesta, Pique, Ronaldo, Bale, Modric, Toni Kroos, there is only one of them. So they can only play for one club and not two.
“We cannot have them. They belong to the clubs. You can be working very hard tactically to improve your team, to improve your players, but some players are special and against that nature there is nothing you can do. In the real matches you try to compensate for the difference in quality with a certain tactical organisation, and with that you can win.
“In football it is possible for a team to be better than the sum of the parts. But the parts are amazing. Their [Barcelona’s] relationship with the ball is amazing. You can argue about the occupation of space, tactics and compact blocks, but the player’s relationship with the ball is still the most important thing.
“Even as an opponent on the bench like I am, it is beautiful to see the guys’ relationship with the ball. Today, one of my players, Paul Pogba, showed the level. He showed that he belongs at that level.”
Pogba later posted a photo with Messi and Neymar to his official Instagram account.