Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba cannot be considered “top-class” and on the same level as Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, says Rafa Benitez.
The France international made his return to competitive action against Benitez’s Newcastle following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a hamstring complaint.
Pogba slotted seamlessly back into the Old Trafford fold, with a talismanic display helping Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils to a convincing 4-1 victory.
The 24-year-old has earned plenty of plaudits on the back of his display, but former Liverpool boss Benitez believes he still has some way to go before being placed in a talent bracket alongside modern day icons.
He told reporters when pressed on comparisons between Pogba and ex-England captain Gerrard: “They’re different. Stevie was a top-class player for so many years.
“He was very consistent and could make the difference in every game, with or without the ball.
“He was a top-class player. Pogba is a great player, but he still has to be consistent for years like Stevie was for 10 or 15 years.
“Pogba is not my player, so I don’t need to talk too much about him. He’s a great player, like the majority of the Manchester United players.
“But I’m concentrated on trying to improve my players.”
Pogba scored one and created another as he returned with a bang against Newcastle.
Mourinho billed him as “different class” in the wake of an eye-catching performance, while the £89 million man admitted to feeling “blessed” at being back out on the field.
Having sat out 12 games through injury, Pogba said: “To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score on my comeback, I feel blessed.
“Most of last season I had injuries, but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy.