Didier Deschamps insisted Paul Pogba cannot win games for Manchester United on his own as the France head coach defended the star midfielder and his leadership qualities.
Pogba helped France to World Cup glory in Russia but he has struggled to replicate that form at United in the Premier League amid a tense relationship with manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho stripped Pogba – who was substituted in Saturday’s shock defeat to West Ham – of his vice-captaincy responsibilities, while the pair were involved in a training-ground confrontation on Wednesday.
Mourinho has also insisted that “no player is bigger than the club” while addressing the issues with Pogba and claimed that “after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision Paul is just a player and not a captain.”
But Deschamps has come to the defence of one of his star men, claiming that the 25-year-old’s attitude has always been positive and pointing out that the way of playing and the team around him may be the issue at the club level.
Asked about Pogba’s performances for France compared to his displays at United, Deschamps said: “For Paul it depends not only on him but also the team he is in, the collective way of playing. It is not a case of one player who makes the team win.”
Deschamps went to explain that, in his opinion, Pogba’s “demonstrative” attitude may lead to some false representations of him as a player and a person.
“There are a few things people ought to know,” he continued. “First of all there is an image of Paul that doesn’t correspond to who he is.
“Maybe it is because he is a bit eccentric, a bit demonstrative.
“He has been with me since 2013 – that is five years now – and the way he functions is not about him for himself, it is him as part of the group. That is really important.
“His image in the media makes everything quite complicated. The amount of the transfer to Manchester United is ridiculous … it wasn’t easy to manage.
“During this World Cup he managed to get a normal image back. The fact he talks, it liberates him a bit, but the most important thing is that Paul came to this World Cup with a very precise idea: he wanted to prepare himself to be world champion. That is what he had in his mind.”
Deschamps also praised Pogba and his leadership within the France squad, saying: “He has taken many things upon himself. He has been a leader.
“Each time he had to talk and express himself it was always very positive. It’s the words he uses and the atmosphere and feeling that comes across.
“He is not the only one but he is one of the leaders who took it upon himself because the group needed it. On the pitch he did what needed to be done as well.”