Giorgio Chiellini admits that he expected Paul Pogba to “pass through” Juventus when he arrived as a free agent from Manchester United in 2012, with nobody expecting the Frenchman to become “such a champion”.
The Bianconeri won the race for a prized signature when differences of opinion at Old Trafford led a promising midfielder to explore options outside of Old Trafford.
Pogba was a relatively unproven youngster at that stage, with there little to suggest that he would quickly establish himself in Turin and become a key part of a star-studded squad.
That, though, is precisely what happened, with four productive years in Italy leading to a record-breaking £89 million ($110m) return to United being made in the summer of 2016.
The 27-year-old has found the going tough at times during a second stint in England, but is now a World Cup winner and a player capable of delivering match-altering moments of brilliance on his day.
Chiellini is one of Pogba’s many fans, with the Juve defender admitting to being left pleasantly surprised by the success enjoyed by an enigmatic talent that has sparked talk of a return to Italy being made.
“I remember when he came,” Chiellini said in his autobiography.
“Three or four days into the retreat, my team-mates and I looked at each other and said: ‘This guy is really good’.
“He came as a free agent from Manchester United, he was very young, and we thought he was just one of many passing through. One of those who clubs use to do work on the market.
“However, nobody expected such a champion.
“Paul moved around with incredible physique, he was magical, impressive. And to say that the first games he played out of position, in front of the defence to ease [Andrea] Pirlo.
“But knowing him, in the time to come it became clear that the role had limited him. Paul could not open his stride and free his physical and technical arrogance, what would allow him to become the formidable box-to-box player we know.”
Pogba took in 178 appearances for Juventus across four seasons, recording 34 goals and collecting four Serie A titles.