Paul Pogba insists he has nothing but respect for Alex Ferguson as he prepares to make his second debut for Manchester United.
Pogba left United for Juventus in 2012, with the then-teenager frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities, while Ferguson spoke critically of both the player and his agent Mino Raiola’s conduct.
United needed to pay a world-record fee to bring the France midfielder back from Juventus to Manchester as a showpiece signing to launch the Jose Mourinho era.
Having served a suspension during last weekend’s 3-1 win at Bournemouth, the 23-year-old is relishing both the prospect of facing Southampton at Old Trafford on Friday and meeting his former boss once again.
Asked for his feelings towards Ferguson in an interview with Thierry Henry for Sky Sports, Pogba said: “Big respect – the greatest manager in football. I don’t have any problems with him and I never have
“The only problem maybe I had was I wanted to play. Maybe for him it was too early. For me it was too late – I was ready – and that’s it.
“I learnt a lot with him too. I will always respect him and I hope to meet him again.
“I always loved United to be honest. I left because I wanted to play and I wanted to show the world, show United, that I was ready to play and motivated to play
“This comeback shows that I left United but part of my head was still here.”
United will look towards Pogba and fellow new-arrival Zlatan Ibrahimovic for inspiration this season and the former is enjoying his early days as a team-mate of the enigmatic Swedish striker.
“It’s always good to play with big players,” he said. “I was lucky to play with top players at Juve too. Players like him want to make big things. You need to have big players.
“He loves to joke. Every time I see him he says something about my shoes, about my hair. And the way he talks too…’I am Zlatan’.
“The way he’s talking is just funny. He is a good guy.”
Like Ibrahimovic, Pogba does not shy away from stating lofty career ambitions – namely ending Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or.
“That’s my dream, that’s one of my objectives. I always dream of winning the Ballon d’Or
“I’d rather say crazy things and dream crazy rather than small things. Maybe it will happen, maybe not, but I will try to achieve it.”