LYON, France – France manager Didier Deschamps has come to the defense of midfielder Paul Pogba, touting the Manchester United man’s abilities as a “complete midfielder.”
Speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s match against the U.S., Deschamps was asked often about Pogba, and in particular an interview he gave to France Football where Pogba said he wanted to be the leader of the team, and that sometimes he was judged unfairly because he is a midfielder.
But Deschamps insisted that “there are no problems” with Pogba.
“He’s a midfielder indeed. He’s not a No. 10, not a forward,” said Deschamps with the help of a translator. “He can always score, but he’s a midfielder, a complete midfielder, but he can’t do everything. It’s nuanced. He has the potential, that is quite important.”
Pogba was at less than his best in a 3-1 friendly win over Italy and has recently been whistled by some portions of the home crowd, with former France international Frank Leboeuf saying recently he doesn’t think the 25-year-old will start in Russia.
“We talked about that, and [Pogba] knows it wasn’t his best match,” said Deschamps. “He’s conscious about that. But the team needs him and he certainly needs freedom inside the team, but there was one match where he didn’t play so well.
“You used the term to public [about whistling], the audience, they are part of the spectacle, and sometimes they don’t really know what they do. Of course it’s not nice when things like that happen in the stadium, but it’s always a minority who does such things.
“And most of the times for reasons that are not really reasonable. Sometimes it’s just about the club where they play, or something else. But all of those players, they are French players, they wear the same jersey and I know that the big majority of the public and all supporters are 100 percent behind Les Bleus.”
France will open their World Cup campaign on June 16 against Australia in Kazan.