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Pogba excited for first minutes with Atlanta United

Having not played in a game in more than eight months, Florentin Pogba is excited to see his first minutes with Atlanta United.

Pogba, a 28-year-old defender, was signed by the MLS club earlier this week from Turkish side Genclerbirligi.

“I want to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said. “I want to be happy on the field, but I want to win a league title. We a have a team capable of doing that. I’m really focused on that.”

Pogba has started training with the team. The next opportunity for his first minutes will come in Sunday’s friendly at LAFC.

Atlanta United acquired Pogba to add depth at centerback, particularly a player who is left-footed. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is right-footed but has played on the left side of a two-man or three-man centerback setup.

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Pogba said he is comfortable playing as one of three centerbacks or two. He played in a three-man setup in Europa League games when he was with Saint-Etienne in France, as well as in important league games against Lyon, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain. Pogba appeared in 99 games with Saint-Etienne before transferring to the Turkish club in Jan. 2018. His contract with the club expired at the end of the season. Since then, he was looking for a club.

“I know the position,” he said. “I can play it easily.”

Pogba has a deep voice and bright smile. He said he likes to joke with the coaching staff and his teammates. He said he tries to live in the moment. His roommate during training camp is Anderson Asiedu. It makes for an interesting friendship because Pogba is 6-foot-3 and Asiedu, the team’s first-round draft pick in January, is 5-6.

“He’s my father,” Pogba joked.

Pogba said an MLS agent contacted him last year and said two clubs, Atlanta United and another, were interested in him. He came to Atlanta in Sept. 2018 and worked out for a week. He said the sessions went well, but that no further action could be taken until the season ended and signings could be made.

He said less than two weeks ago, he received a call that Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer wanted him to sign with the club.

Before the MLS agent contacted him, Pogba said he hadn’t considered playing in the league. Other than Laurent Kissiedou, an Atlanta United 2 player who speaks French and whom he met when he worked out for a week, Pogba said didn’t know any of the players on the team other than Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron, who were discussed by those who follow soccer in France.

After consideration, he liked Atlanta, Atlanta United and the club’s ambition and infrastructure.

“I want to try,” he said. “It feels good, I’ll continue.”

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