Belfast Telegraph

Pogba will win the Ballon d'Or within five years, says Manchester United team-mate

By Phil Blanche

Anthony Martial is convinced that his Manchester United team-mate Paul Pogba is a future Ballon d'Or winner.

Pogba was the world's most expensive player until Neymar joined Paris St Germain from Barcelona in a world-record £200.6m transfer earlier this month.

The 24-year-old France midfielder had a mixed first season after returning to United from Juventus in a then world-record £89m deal in August 2016.

But Pogba has impressed at the start of the new campaign as United have set the early Premier League pace. Pogba scored in the 4-0 wins against West Ham and Swansea after being given added freedom following the summer acquisition of Nemanja Matic.

"I would say he is probably the best midfield player in the world," United winger Martial said in an MUTV documentary about Pogba, to be screened soon.

"Paul is very mentally strong and he is very sure of himself.

"He is a big guy, he is very technical on the ball and he has lots of endurance. He is still young, too, so he has a lot to work on and he can get even better.

"If he continues to play and improve like he is doing then I think he is also going to win the Ballon d'Or award in the next five years."

Meanwhile, Chris Wood wants to remain a Premier League player "for years" having become Burnley's record £15m signing from Leeds.

The 25-year-old New Zealander, last season's leading scorer in the Sky Bet Championship with 27 goals, signed a four-year deal with the Clarets yesterday after the Whites accepted a fee that is understood could rise to around £17m with add-ons.

Wood made his Premier League debut as a 17-year-old with West Brom but has only registered 10 top-flight appearances with them and Leicester.

None of those were starts, and he is keen to become a regular fixture in the division now he is a Burnley player.

"My ambition has been to play in the Premier League for years," Wood said. "This is a club that wants to stay in the Premier League for years to come and it's going that way. I've had tastes of being in there but I've never had the chance to give it a proper bash.

"Coming here I feel I've got a proper opportunity to do that. I've never started a Premier League game and this is what I want to do.

"The squad has done fantastically over the last couple of years.

"There have been some great additions this summer, which I'm sure has given everyone an added boost, to move forward and cement us as a Premier League team and looking on further up the league.

"The manager has given me a lot of confidence and backed me to bring me here, which is what you want.

"I've still got a lot of good years ahead of me. I've got lots of ambitions to achieve in the future. I've got goals and dreams that I want to achieve and it starts here."

Wood captained his country at this summer's Confederations Cup and is the first forward Burnley manager Sean Dyche has signed since Andre Gray left for Watford for £18.5m earlier this month.

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