Five ways Paul Pogba has improved since his first stint with Man United
Paul Pogba left Manchester United for Juventus as a 19-year-old with £800,000 compensation paid. He has returned four years later after a world-record £89.3 million deal. What has changed so drastically in the time since his departure?
The teenager who Sir Alex Ferguson let go transformed into the man who Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward pursued so diligently this summer, even when the fee was eye-watering enough to put off other elite clubs in Europe.
After the signing was complete, Mourinho spoke of Pogba looking like a "kid that is back to his old school." Here, we take a look at how the prodigal son has returned a changed man as he prepares to make his return debut against Southampton on Friday night.
Here are five things that Pogba improved upon during his time at Juventus:
More of a team player
On arrival, Pogba seemed to have an individualistic streak in him, but there have been clear signs of his thorough, thought-out decision-making process aimed at benefiting the group as a whole now, a characteristic that is sure to appeal to Mourinho.
Serie A pundit Mina Rzouki said: "He still makes too many trigger-happy decisions, but he's learned how to draw out defenders to leave his teammates with one-on-one duels to win." Rzouki has also spotted this selflessness in his runs to create space for others and protection of possession.
Pogba has already shown his Instagram followers his appetite for improving his physique and the physical development should be clear to see when he takes to the field on Friday night. His strong arms assist him in holding off opponents and give him direction while his well-trained legs burst forward, and the athleticism also helps in the defensive side of his game. Knocking him off the ball is not a straightforward task for opponents, either. United could use him in a box-to-box role, which will make that strength significant.
Capable of long-range goals
Even while he was at United, there were signs that he had confidence, having the character to break free after Ferguson snubbed him, but now there is almost an on-field swagger in the way he sometimes unleashes strikes from distance.
Ben Gladwell, who reports on Serie A for ESPN FC, observes: "He has a great shot on him -- not many hit the ball better than he does -- meaning a lot of his goals come from long range." In his first two seasons with Juventus, he scored 12 goals in 63 league games and that climbed to 16 goals in 61 in the latest two seasons.
Cultured passing range
While Ferguson did not see him as a man to bring in when an injury crisis hit in late December 2011 after Paul Scholes had retired, the Scotsman might be far more impressed by the player's ball distribution now. In fact, Scholes -- such a smart playmaker in his heyday -- himself would approve of a lot of what Pogba does. These days, the Frenchman arrives as a player who can hit long and short passes, while also showing a variety of pace, power and delicacy in his delivery. Diagonal balls can regularly be seen when watching Pogba in action.
There are still signs of annoyance and frustration from Pogba, as was seen in his body language during France's Euro 2016 final loss against Portugal, but he is becoming better at keeping a lid on it. As a star man, he could be a target of dirty tricks from inferior opponents to throw him out of his stride, so that is important. Rzouki believes that Pogba's "mentality greatly improved although it still needs a lot of work" and, although he may not be a leader yet, he is getting better at handling those who try to provoke him.
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.