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May 6, 2013

Pogba gets three-match ban for spitting

Richard Hughes and Gab Marcotti join James Richardson to discuss Pogba's red card

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has played his final game of the season after he was handed a three-match ban for spitting at an opponent.

• Blog: Campioni d'Italia!

During Sunday's 1-0 win over Palermo, which saw the Bianconeri retain the Serie A title, Pogba's reaction to being pushed by Salvatore Aronica earned him a straight red card in the 83rd minute.

The suspension means that the 20-year-old will miss Juve's final three matches of the campaign against Atalanta, Cagliari and Sampdoria.

After Juve claimed their 31st league title on Sunday, Pogba said he has set his sights on becoming a permanent fixture in the first team.

Frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities at Manchester United, Pogba quit Old Trafford to move to Turin last summer hoping to make his mark in Italy. Eased into the first team by coach Antonio Conte, the midfielder has impressed sufficiently to earn international recognition with France, but though he featured in 27 Serie A games en route to the title, Pogba still feels he still has work to do.

"My objective is to fully establish myself as a first-team regular," the former Le Havre prodigy, who made 18 starts, told L'Equipe. "Today, I can't consider myself as being one really, even if I've started games in recent weeks. I also want to win as many titles as possible with Juventus, play in big games and score goals."

Tipped for stardom when he arrived at United in 2009, Pogba made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League. Conte's promise that his talents would get an opportunity to shine and improve in Italy were sufficient to convince Pogba to join the Bianconeri, and he admitted his new boss, 43, has kept his promise.

"It's true that when I started the season I was the 'little young 'un', but the coach had faith in me. He's given me the opportunity to express myself, and I've shown on the pitch that he was right to do so. Progressively, I've had more and more starts. I'm really happy, because the coach had told me how things were going to go, and he wasn't lying. He's proven he's a man of his word. My team-mates have also done everything to help me settle."

Arturo Vidal's second-half penalty was enough for Juve to beat Palermo on Sunday and secure the scudetto, and Pogba's joy at picking up the first major title of his career was not even tempered by his late red card.

"It's something very beautiful, great," replied Pogba when asked what being champions meant to him. "I'm really happy. We're going to really celebrate. We've worked hard to be crowned champions, and today is a great day for me and the team. It's a fully deserved scudetto. Even the other teams acknowledge that."

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