As Manchester United swept Istanbul Basaksehir aside with a dominant 4-1 win, Paul Pogba seemed like an afterthought.
The French midfielder was missing with an ankle injury for the second successive game.
He has not started a game for United since November 1 against Arsenal, when he gave away a penalty in a defeat.
There is as always, speculation over Pogba’s future, with his contract expiring in summer 2022.
An impressive performance from United’s midfield showed the team have the depth to survive without Pogba, and even thrive.
There was no bitterness on Pogba’s part to seeing United kick on without him. He sent a message to his teammates congratulating them on a big win.
Pogba has played his part in United’s surge to the top of the group. He provided the assist for Marcus Rashford’s winner in Paris, and Mason Greenwood’s opener against RB Leipzig.
Donny van de Beek’s starring role in midfield certainly complicates Pogba’s path back into the United first team.
The Frenchman is no longer first choice and he has to earn his place back in the side.
United lead the group and are well placed to clinch qualification to the knockout stages.
Pogba will be desperate to star in the latter stages of the Champions League. It is the stage he believes he belongs on.
By time the knockout phase arrives next February, assuming United qualify, Pogba will hope he has a central role to play. It could even be the stage he needs to raise his value for a summer move.
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