Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is among the best midfielders in the world but will struggle to win top individual awards, says manager Jose Mourinho.
The France international rejoined United for a world record fee of £89m and is set to make his debut against Southampton on Friday.
“He is one of the best midfielders, maybe I could say the best midfield player in the world,” said Mourinho.
But he suggested a lack of goals will count against Pogba winning awards.
The Ballon d’Or, which recognises the world’s best player, has been won by either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi every year since 2008.
Messi has scored 374 career goals and Ronaldo 364. Pogba scored 34 goals in four seasons for Juventus, after leaving United in 2012.
“First of all, when you speak about the best players in the world you go immediately to the ones that score a lot of goals,” said Mourinho.
“You don’t give a gold ball to a goalkeeper. They gave a gold ball to defender Fabio Cannavaro once in 2006 but because in that season he was captain of Italy, they were world champions, and there were not too many top players.
“Paolo Maldini never got a gold ball, Javier Zanetti never got a gold ball, top goalkeepers over history don’t get a gold ball.
“Can Paul score Ronaldo and Messi goals? Not even 25%. I believe in a season he cannot score 20 goals. If to be the best player in the world means to score a lot of goals, that’s not the point.”
Pogba, 23, missed the 3-1 victory at Bournemouth on Sunday because of suspension, but Mourinho confirmed the midfielder could make his first Old Trafford appearance since 2012 against Saints on Friday.
‘Noisy Old Trafford is vital’
Mourinho says “the relationship between the team and the fans” is key to reviving a fear factor at Old Trafford.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United have averaged 2.02 points per Premier League home game, compared to 2.63 in the previous three seasons.
“If at Old Trafford, a couple of thousand away fans can be more noisy than 70,000, we are in trouble,” said Mourinho.
“It means there is no connection.”
Mourinho also revealed 34-year-old Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has an option for a second year on the one-year deal he signed as a free agent in July.
“His motivation is really high,” said the Portuguese. “No doubts he will be here for the next two years.”
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