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Pogba: Matic will help get the best out of me; Fans should focus on skills not colours

The former Juventus man believes the defensive attributes of his new partner will help him to show his true level after a difficult first season

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has hailed the impact of new signing Nemanja Matic, claiming his team-mate allows him to play his more natural game.

The Serbia international has slotted seamlessly into Jose Mourinho’s side since his reported £40 million move from Premier League champions Chelsea.

Matic and Pogba have started both of United’s league games this term and the central midfield pair have delivered strong performances, with the Frenchman having scored in each of the 4-0 wins over West Ham and Swansea City.

The former Juventus star’s form did not wholly justify his £89.3m price tag in his first season back in England, but he believes that playing alongside Matic will allow him to flourish.

“I am mostly an offensive player and I think more about attacking,” he told ESPN. “But he [Matic] will be more defending.

“We can switch, but we match a lot and in those two games, I have been more forward and he has stayed back.

“That helps me more be myself. I still do the defensive part, but now I can go forward more and help the strikers. I like to be in front of the goals too. He helps me and I enjoy it, yes.”

United’s commanding displays in their opening two games have prompted many to tip them to claim their first league title since 2012-13 this term.

Pogba insists Mourinho’s men will not become complacent, but says they have no reason to fear their closest rivals.

“I’m pleased and happy that we have started really well, but it is not finished yet. It is just the start of the season,” he said.

“The biggest challengers? We are our own rivals and we think about ourselves first. But we don’t have to be scared of anyone in the league because we know we are a strong team as well. We know we can do great this season.

“I hope [we can win the title]. Every team is strong, like when Leicester won it two years ago and nobody expected it, so you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“We started very well, but we can end up bad and we don’t want this. We want to be focused from game to game.”

Next up for United is the visit of 2015-16 champions Leicester City, a fixture the hosts won 4-1 last season, with Pogba on target.

Paul Pogba has also mentioned of his hope that Russia 2018 will not be tarnished by racism towards players and supporters, and urged all fans to focus solely on a footballer’s ability rather than his ethnicity.

“When it comes to the World Cup, all those sports teams from all over the world coming [to Russia], I think we won’t hear a lot of racism,” he said.

“I enjoy football and the people who do this, I just want them to understand it’s just a game. Against your team yes, but it’s about respect as well.

“At the end of the day, when you finish a game, you go back home and you’re a normal person, so just respect that.

“You are a sportsman, you are a football player and the colour doesn’t do anything. It is the skill that you do, not the colour.

“Personally, when I look at the footballers like Ronaldinho, [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo whoever I just admire them for what they are doing on the pitch.

“That’s what our eyes should look for.”

Pogba admits that his advice to any player subjected to taunts is simply to respond with skill and talent on the pitch.

“Just by doing great on the pitch — the best answer is on the pitch, with racism and stuff like that,” he said. “If you can play well, score a goal, just for yourself, you know?

“Just keep cool, just enjoy life because you are lucky and blessed to be able to [do] things that a lot of people can’t do.

“Think about the chance we have and enjoy life.

“I hope we can help a lot in football and outside football too. If a young guy, and I am still young, can help the world by showing an example, I will be very happy.”

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