Three weeks ago, you could forgive a Juventus fan for being more bullish about the midfield than one had in quite some time. With Paul Pogba returning to join talented pieces like Manuel Locatelli and Weston McKennie, backed up by Denis Zakaria and three solid young prospects, things were finally looking up for a unit that had been in flux for nearly half a decade. While certainly not on the level of the MVPP midfield of a decade ago, it certainly had the potential to match what we saw when a prime Miralem Pjanic and a pre-injury Sami Khedira were manning the engine room.

For some (myself included) Pogba’s return was tempered by the fact that his injury history was reaching “Not great, Bob!” levels. That reared its ugly head early, undercutting an excellent performance in the team’s first friendly when he was diagnosed with a tear in his meniscus. Initially faced with anywhere from two to five months out, depending on which surgery he chose, he then imprudently chose Door No. 3 and decided to simply try to rehab the knee, turning his leg into a ticking time bomb in order to try to stave off surgery before the World Cup.