Atlanta United. Pogba. Search engine optimization.
That’s pretty much what I thought was the extent of Florentin Pogba’s signing when he was announced earlier this year, but the Guinean international — after an extended time without playing professional soccer — ramped up his fitness and became a key contributor over the course of the season.
Position: Center back, left back
MLS Games Played: 16 (10 starts)
What went right this season?
As mentioned, Pogba had major question marks surrounding his fitness coming to Atlanta, having only made 12 league starts in Franc and Turkey in the 2017/18 season, and not having played at all for more than six months prior to signing with Atlanta. Pogba put his head down and made four starts with Atlanta United 2 early in the season, forcing his way into Frank de Boer’s side. Pogba’s influence grew throughout the season, and it’s not surprise that the Guinean started in both the Campeones Cup final and the U.S. Open Cup final — both resulting in trophies for the Five Stripes.
What does he need to improve?
While he overcame major fitness hurdles, it’s an issue that Pogba will likely continue to battle through the duration of his career. Pogba’s physical mass means he’s putting more stress on his body during games than most players, and subsequently requires a longer recovery period. He and the team were able to manage it well enough to keep him available for most of the season. But with MLS’s new condensed schedule, it’s going to be difficult for him to play two games in a week regularly, something that is becoming the norm in the modern game.
What role will he play in 2020?
Atlanta United decided against triggering the option on Pogba’s contract, meaning it’s unlikely (though not impossible) for him to return to the team in 2020. In a conference call with reporters in November, Vice President Carlos Bocanegra indicated that the team may attempt to re-sign some of the players who had options declined. That said, reports emerged this summer that Pogba could leave Atlanta United to play again in Europe so that he could work in closer proximity to his family. While some of the details in the report — particularly the timeline — proved inaccurate, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Guinean make a move, and the performances he showed in Atlanta will only open more avenues.
Overall Player Grade