Paul Pogba has suggested that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are partly to blame for the criticism that continues to come his way at Manchester United.
The 26-year-old believes his contribution would have been lauded not all that long ago, with the exploits of star turns at Barcelona and Juventus pushing expectation levels up for everybody else.
Pogba told Icon Magazine: “Football has changed a lot. I grew up watching the exploits of great champions, real legends like [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Luis] Figo, [Francesco] Totti and many others.
“All have been champions, the best in the world, but perhaps many of them did not achieve more than 20 goals per season.
“Now the data, the statistics, the numbers, often seem to have become the only parameter of judgment.
“That, on the one hand, is good, it is part of the evolution of modern football and the desire to play the ball more and more. But we often tend to forget how difficult it has always been to score more than 20 goals, even for the big players.
“And today perhaps even more so, because the distance between the teams of high level has been reduced, especially in big competitions.
“Messi and Ronaldo have shown in recent years: doing what they did, maintaining those stats – that is the exception, not the norm.
Pogba added: “If an attacker today scores ten or 15 goals, he is likely to be told that it is not enough. But the player’s work must be judged with perspective.
“You have to remember that someone like Pavel Nedved won the Ballon d’Or without his team winning the Champions League or without having scored much himself. He was simply the best in his role and was rewarded for what he was capable of doing on the field.”