London (AFP) – France manager Didier Deschamps believes the outside world has the wrong image of Paul Pogba, who played a key role in leading Les Bleus to winning the World Cup.
At club level the Manchester United midfielder hasn’t lived up to expectations since his then world record £89 million ($116 million) move from Juventus in 2016, although his performances have picked up in recent weeks.
Off the field, Pogba has attracted criticism for spending too much time on social media and frequently changing his hairstyle than concentrating on his football.
However, he shone for France in Russia, often sacrificing the attacking side of his game for the good of the team, before scoring in the final against Croatia.
“The rest of the world had an image of Pogba which didn’t really reflect who he is,” Deschamps told FIFA’s coaching conference to review the World Cup on Sunday.”He’s always thinking about the collective.
“There is an image of him that he is very individualistic, a bit self-centred, but that’s not the true Paul at all.”
Pogba’s importance as a leader of the French side was revealed in a behind the scenes documentary, which showed the prominent role he took during a team talk at half-time in the final.
“He prepared to win. He took on the mantle of leadership both on and off the pitch. He took on the role of spokesman, he can do that because he is a good speaker,” added Deschamps, who believes Pogba is now more calm when it comes to dealing with press scrutiny of his performances.
“You can be criticised, the press can be tough on you. Once you take that on board, I think you can become more calm. He has taken that on board and it has had an impact on him on and off the pitch.
“I think it gave him some respect, and that respect he has gained on the field has also had an impact on him as a person.”
Deschamps is the heavy favourite to win the award for FIFA’s best coach of the year at an award ceremony in London on Monday.
However, no Frenchman is in the running for the best player prize as Cristiano Ronaldo faces competition from Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah to win FIFA’s world player of the year for the sixth time.
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