The Roma midfielder has jumped to the defence of his former team-mate ahead of a Europa League semi-final clash with the Red Devils

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has expressed his belief that Paul Pogba is unfairly judged at Manchester United, and has urged people to “criticise him for his bad performance, not his hairstyle”.

Pogba has been the subject of much scrutiny during his second spell at Old Trafford, with it suggested that the midfielder hasn’t done enough to justify the £89 million ($124m) fee the Red Devils spent to bring him back from Juventus in 2016.

Questions have been asked over the Frenchman’s commitment to United’s cause, but Roma’s Mkhitaryan has jumped to his former team-mate’s defence ahead of their Europa League semi-final meeting on Thursday.

What’s been said?

The former United playmaker told The Athletic: “It doesn’t matter if you are Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba or someone else, they will see something in you, small details to criticise.

“When Paul was playing everyone was criticising him for his hairstyle. I don’t think that has something to do with football, that’s his personal life.

“If he plays bad, criticise him for his bad performance, not his hairstyle. That’s not good. It has nothing to do with football.

“And you know, some people that don’t know him, some people who haven’t trained with him or played with him they don’t see these kinds of things.

“You have to be in the team, you have to see the way he trains, the way he thinks, the way he suffers and then say if he played good or he played bad.”

Asked if he still keeps in regular contact with any United players, Mkhitaryan responded: “Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Eric Bailly.

“We send each other messages, I wouldn’t say every day or every month but we do when there’s an opportunity. There’s always a reason to congratulate each other.”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan Paul Pogba Manchester United

How has Pogba performed for the Red Devils this season?

Pogba has been hampered by fitness issues throughout the 2020-21 campaign which have served to limit his overall contribution, but he has made a big impact for Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s team when available.

The 28-year-old has featured in 36 games across all competitions to date, scoring five goals, including spectacular late winners against Burnley and Fulham in the Premier League.

Pogba has helped United rise to second in the table, and will be in line to start the first leg against Roma at Old Trafford as they bid to reach the Europa League final.

What else did Mkhitaryan say?

Mkhitaryan, who joined Roma from Arsenal on a permanent deal last summer, went on to insist that he has no regrets over his underwhelming stint with the Red Devils, during which he only managed to score 13 goals in 63 games amid a lack of regular minutes.

The Armenian is proud that he was able to lift the Europa League, Carabao Cup and Community Shield at Old Trafford, as he added: “What I want to say is that I had a hard time but after the first two or three months there, I had a very good time.

“I won three trophies with the club, which was amazing. You know, some players have been playing in Manchester for ages but they haven’t won anything.”

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