Paul Pogba wants Manchester United’s academy players to make the best out of their chances to play for the first team and has urged them to become the legends at the club.
Manager United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been forced to include many youngsters in the team thanks to the series of injuries, including that of Pogba’s, which has troubled the side since the start of the season.
Young players, although after a shaky start, have now started to find some footing in the top-flight football. Mason Greenwood, 18, scored twice at Old Trafford on Thursday as United beat AZ Alkmaar 4-0 in the Europa League, playing alongside fellow academy graduates James Garner and Brandon Williams.
Paul Pogba, himself a Manchester United academy graduate, hopes these players can take advantage of the situation and cement their position in United’s first team.
I think and I hope I can help them,” Pogba told MUTV.
“I’ve said to a lot of the young players who have been with the first team: ‘Guys, you don’t know how lucky you are’.
“Unfortunately for us, we’ve had a lot of injured players and it’s, therefore, a big chance for the young players to be involved with the first team.
“This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and maybe the biggest club in history and they have the chance to be in this club.
“So I say to them: ‘Take your chance, play, you are young, you have quality, you have nothing to be afraid of’.
“I hope I can give them the good example when I’m on the pitch and outside the pitch and, even though I don’t see myself as old, I hope that the young players will, one day, come and take my position [when I finish playing].
“That’s how it is, I won’t play forever. We all give our best on the pitch and I hope these young players will become legends here at the club, they have to enjoy it and really appreciate the chance they have here.
“Mason Greenwood is scoring goals, Brandie [Brandon Williams] has been playing games like he’s been there for six months already. This is about what the club is about and what the manager wants.”
Manchester United have always had at least one academy player in the senior squad on matchdays, with Sunday’s Premier League game against Everton set to take that number to 4,000 straight games.
Pogba has helped contribute to the record – which began with a second division game against Fulham in 1937 – having joined the club aged 16 before leaving for Juventus and later returning as United’s record signing in 2016.
Where was I then [in 1937]?! [Laughs] It’s unbelievable and it shows the identity of this club and the culture of this club,” added Pogba.
“We’ve always talked about youth players coming into the first team and it’s just carried on. It’s something that is in this club, it’s incredible it’s been happening since 1937.
“You want to carry this on for the young players and the next generation to go and play in the first team.”