Following his £89.3m return to Manchester United last summer, Paul Pogba has been under fire from many top pundits and journalists. Before Liverpool and United clashed at Anfield in late October, Paul Merson of Sky Sports controversially stated that he would rather have Henderson in his team than Pogba.
This article isn’t here to change minds, if you’re anything like me you’ll have already made up your mind on this debate and nothing will change that. This article will, however, contain nothing but facts. When I hear this debate being discussed either on TV, Twitter or in person I am always infuriated by those who discuss both Pogba and Henderson’s far past; Pogba’s early days at United and Henderson’s time at Sunderland are irrelevant in this debate seen as though they were both young and learning.
In terms of domestic success, Pogba is the outstanding of the two. From the 2012/13 season Pogba has won 4 Serie A titles, 2 Italian Cups and 2 Italian Super Cups. As well as this he was runner-up in the 2015 Champions League Final, and the recent European Championships. During Henderson’s time at Liverpool he has been in 4 finals winning only 1 of them. As well as being integral in Liverpool’s 2013/14 season.
This is far from concrete proof that Pogba is better than Henderson, however. Anyone with a footballing brain knows that one player having more medals than another does not mean they are better. If Henderson was in that Juventus team I’m personally quite sure the Italian Champions would have had the same success as they did with Pogba in the midfield. Similarly, I don’t think Pogba at Liverpool would’ve won the reds the title in 2013/14.
For a midfielder, there are many areas of the game you have to be effective in, in order to impact a game. In simple terms I believe those areas are as follows:
Total Passes, Pass Completion (%), Goals, Assists, Interceptions, and Tackles Won (Ball Retention).
In order for this stat comparison to be fair I have recorded these totals on a per game basis.
*Premier League Stats correct at time of publishing (17/01/17)
Pogba has been involved in 7 goals this season (4 goals, 3 assists), 2 more than Henderson (1 goal, 4 assists). However passing stats, on the whole, reveal Henderson to be better in this field. The Englishman’s pass completion rate per game is 87% compared to Pogba’s of 85%. Although this is a relatively small difference, Henderson on average makes 11 passes per game more than Pogba. Henderson’s stats also reveal he performs better defensively too making 1.65 interceptions per game compared to Pogba’s 1.6, as well as this Pogba wins only 1.35 tackles per game compared to Henderson winning 2.95.
Stats seem to show it to be relatively even between both of these players, I believe personally that Henderson is a better player. He has been excellent this season and is still criminally underrated. Stats aren’t everything however, I find a good way of judging a player is seeing how their team would cope without them. Without Pogba I think the level Manchester United are at wouldn’t change and their final league position would not differ greatly to what it would be if Pogba was playing for them. Henderson however is a workhorse and at times it feels as if he undertakes the work of two players. His stamina is integral to Liverpool’s pressing football and his on-the-ball ability is improving game by game. Liverpool would massively struggle without him and if you don’t believe me think back to the 13/14 season. I believe his sending off in the final minutes against Manchester City cost the reds that year and if that didn’t occur I think the Chelsea and Palace games would have been a different story.
Overall, there is no denying that Pogba is no where near worth £90m, however it’s not his fault he was bought for that price. I never normally wish to see a players career go down the drain, but Pogba’s recent wrestling moves when Henderson was attempting to mark him at Old Trafford on Sunday were disgraceful.
Last season he received 10 yellow cards in Italy and for a midfielder that is extremely high. One thing is for sure, if Pogba wants to flourish at United he will HAVE to control his discipline and aggression before anything else.
Here’s a look back on Jordan Henderson’s Top 10 goals for LFC.
Thank you for reading.
Follow us on Twitter @Anything_LFC – Article by @KopiteJames.