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Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba has been provisionally suspended after a doping control detected elevated levels of testosterone, Italian anti-doping authorities (Nado) told AFP on Monday, September 11. After a nightmare season between injuries and a blackmail affair, the 30-year-old’s dreams of bouncing back were shattered by the alleged doping offense after Juventus’s 3-0 win at Udinese on August 20, during which he was an unused substitute.
On Monday, the 2018 world champion told Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera of his “desire to play” after a “difficult year” that could have “destroyed” him. Instead, he received a new blow. Nado said Pogba had violated anti-doping rules when they found the prohibited substance “non-endogenous testosterone metabolites”. Juventus said in a statement that Pogba had “received a precautionary suspension”. “The club reserves the right to consider the next procedural steps,” the statement added. The test concerns the ‘A’ sample, and if the ‘B’ sample also tests positive for testosterone Pogba could face a four-year ban.
Pogba rejoined Juventus in July 2022 from Manchester United. From 2012 to 2016 he had helped Juve win four Serie A titles and two Italian Cups, and reach the Champions League final in 2015. Pogba had been a star player in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph but had an awful 2022-2023 season blighted by injury and a multi-million euro blackmail plot involving childhood friends and one of his brothers.
He played just ten games for Juventus that season and missed the 2022 World Cup with France. Last season he played six Serie A games but had been slated for a return to action against Lazio at the weekend and said in the interview with Al Jazeera he was raring to go. “I’ve had a difficult year so I’ve this anger and this wish to play football,” Pogba told Al Jazeera.
“The only people that can hurt you are the people close to you. Enemies you know where they are, but friends, family, that you think they’re happy for you, they can destroy you,” he said. “You have to be careful, money changes people, can break up a family,” he said of the multimillion euros extortion efforts by former friends and his own brother Mattias.
Pogba said that at times he had been deeply demotivated by the matter. “I was just by myself thinking I don’t want to have money anymore, I don’t want to play anymore, I just want to be with normal people, so they will love me for me, not for the fame, not for the money,” he said. After this latest setback, Pogba faces an anxious wait for the ‘B’ test.
Pogba injury nightmare: what happened at Juventus and why he hasn’t played since Man Utd exit
Paul Pogba played his last competitive game for Manchester United in April 2022: here’s what happened at Juventus and why he hasn’t yet made his debut in his second spell in Turin.
Pogba returned to the Allianz Stadium as a free agent last summer, signing an €8m-a-year deal plus €2m add-ons until 2026.
He sustained a meniscus injury during the pre-season but initially didn’t undergo surgery, going against the suggestion from club doctors who urged him to go under the knife.
Pogba thought that conservative therapy would allow him to return in time for the World Cup, but after a month of conservative treatment, he had to undergo surgery in September and eventually missed out on Qatar 2022.
Massimiliano Allegri hoped the Frenchman would return in January and called him for the first competitive match against Monza last weekend. Pogba remained on the bench for the entire match and sustained a new flexor injury after a few days.
Therefore, he is not available for Thursday’s Coppa Italia match against Lazio and Allegri looked quite annoyed during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“It takes time for Pogba, nobody can work miracles. His body must adapt. We must use him wisely and at the right moment when he will be fit,” said the Italian tactician who added the 29-year-old might reach the peak of his form in two or three months when the season will almost be over.
According to Gazzetta, Juventus are losing patience with Pogba and the previous management even considered cancelling team bonuses from his contract.
Pogba struggled with injuries during his six-year spell at Manchester United missing 20 games due t physical issues in his final season at Old Trafford.
He played his last competitive game for the Red Devils on April 19, 2022 against Liverpool at Anfield.
Paul Pogba’s injury, delayed surgery and what World Cup absence would mean for France
Paul Pogba’s homecoming summer in Turin was meant to be a fresh start but, unfortunately, it has so far been one of frustration, tempered hopes and some off-field distraction.
The 29-year-old re-joined Juventus on a free transfer in July. He previously won four scudettos at the club between 2012 and 2016. This move was seen as a chance to put his Manchester United disappointments behind him and rekindle the form of his breakout years in Italy. They, in turn, hoped he could bridge the gap between the downturns of today and the years of domestic dominance and Champions League finals.
In July, a few weeks after signing, Pogba tore his meniscus in his right knee. He had played 45 minutes for Massimiliano Allegri’s team in a pre-season friendly against Mexican side Chivas, on July 23 in Los Angeles, only to suffer the injury in training the next day.
At the time, Pogba opted against surgery. But five weeks on, he has now gone under the knife, an outcome that has put his World Cup hopes in doubt.
He now faces six weeks of rehabilitation, a timeframe that puts him perilously close to the start of this winter’s tournament in Qatar. His participation and hopes of retaining the trophy are very much up in the air.
For Juventus, it means their marquee signing will likely need to wait until the new year to restart his homecoming. For France, it leaves new questions in midfield for their coach, Didier Deschamps.
Pogba’s last competitive match remains United’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool on April 19, when he was substituted off after nine minutes with a calf injury.
Why did Pogba not have surgery immediately?
After suffering his meniscus injury, it is thought Juventus wanted an operation there and then, with the club doctor even floating the possibility of an operation in Los Angeles. Pogba, understandably, was keen for a second opinion.
The priority was to give himself the best chance to be ready for the World Cup and the idea of surgery, which would potentially see him return in October and provide only three to four weeks of game-time before the tournament, was one he wanted to avoid. He wanted to be as match-fit as possible for Qatar.
Pogba underwent medical scans and while the Juventus squad flew on to Dallas to continue their Serie A preparations, Pogba returned to Europe. He went to Lyon to consult with Dr Bertrand Sonnery-Cottet, who had similarly operated on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in May. It was suggested the 91-cap France international could undergo a more “conservative” approach, as Turin-based outlet Tuttosport described it. This was to see him rest and rehabilitate through swimming pool and joint-strengthening exercises — after the meniscus had healed. It is understood Juventus agreed to Pogba’s plan. Tuttosport put his absence at about five weeks.
Pogba’s rehabilitation had been progressing well. But then, during Pogba’s second individual session working outside at Juventus on Monday, he again experienced pain in his knee.
That decision was made on the basis that, if everything went swimmingly in terms of his rehabilitation and recovery, he would still have an outside chance of making the World Cup. Previous hopes of building adequate match fitness were set aside. Getting to Qatar is now the priority.
The operation, a selective external arthroscopic meniscectomy, was carried out by Professor Roberto Rossi in the presence of Juventus doctor Lucas Stefanini on Monday night. Juventus have since said in a statement that it was “a complete success”, a point reiterated by Pogba on social media. “The operation went very well,” Pogba said. “We will recover and come back very, very quickly.”
In an interview with Calcio e Finanza, Professor Rossi said it was a mistake not to undergo surgery when the injury first happened. “He was wrong not to have an operation immediately, not having an operation immediately made the injury worse,” he said.
Juventus’s managing director Maurizio Arrivabene said: “Paul knew what our opinion was, but we respected his. It is not the best situation for anyone, but now we can only hope that he will return as soon as possible.
“I don’t want to look to the past or create controversy, also because the decision was made together. But we are in a situation that is not ideal for us or for him.
“This conservative therapy was attempted and today, of course, we are not in an ideal situation, neither for us nor for him. However, we must look ahead and hope for a quick return. There is talk of a return for the World Cup, I sincerely wish the French national team to be well, but I am interested in Juventus and, therefore, I hope that he will return as soon as possible to help us.”
Now, it is a race against the clock for the World Cup. Six weeks of rehabilitation have been mooted before he can start running outside again. That would mean, in an ideal world of no setbacks, he might be able to play first-team football at the beginning of November — likely one game, two at most, for Juventus before France head to Doha. Professor Rossi said an eight-week time frame would be a normal path to recovery, but it was not possible to say a time frame as it will depend on how the knee responds to rehab.
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