France manager Didier Deschamps has provided an insight into the current mindset of Manchester United star Paul Pogba, as rumours continue to swirl regarding a potential exit from the club.
Pogba back on song
For the first time in some time, speculation surrounding the future of Red Devils midfielder Pogba proved largely subdued this past summer.
The Frenchman endured a somewhat hit-and-miss campaign at Old Trafford in 2019/20, with a series of ankle problems having restricted him to just 16 Premier League appearances.
Significantly, though, 9 of these outings came on the back of the forced Covid-19 break, with Pogba having gone on to play a key role in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men clinching a top-4 berth.
The 27-year-old also formed an encouraging partnership alongside Bruno Fernandes at the heart of United’s midfield, with Pogba, all told, having looked genuinely content in the colours of the Manchester giants as the campaign drew to a close.
Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020. (Photo by Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP)
Such factors, when also taking into consideration the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on clubs around the globe, in turn, saw the rumours surrounding Pogba’s name fizzle out almost completely ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
‘Not in one of his better periods’
This, however, all changed early last month.
Speaking to the media whilst on international duty with France, the gifted midfielder was drawn on a potential move to Real Madrid down the line.
And Pogba point blank refused to rule out the possibility, going as far as to label a Bernabeu switch ‘a dream’:
‘We have all heard that things have been said. What to say? Yes, all footballers would love to play for Real Madrid. It might be a dream.’
‘It is a dream for me, why not one day?’
Arsenal’s Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey (L) vies with Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
The weeks since what many viewed as essentially a ‘come and get me’ plea to Real, meanwhile, have seen Pogba majorly struggle for game-time.
In fact, across the club’s 7 outings on the back of the last international break, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has afforded his star midfielder just 2 starts.
And, as outlined above, this situation is evidently beginning to take its toll on Pogba.
During a press conference ahead of his side’s Nations League showdown with Portugal on Saturday night, France boss Didier Deschamps was drawn on Pogba’s struggles at Old Trafford.
And the World Cup winning tactician went on to confirm that the 27-year-old, like any other in a similar situation, has been ‘impacted mentally’ by his lack of game-time of late:
‘He’s not in his best form, of course. I knew that before the game (versus Finland on Wednesday). This match was meant to give him some rhythm. He knew that he would only play for an hour.’
‘It’s hard to remember to be positive. Obviously, he’s not in one of his better periods.’
‘Like all players who have a club situation that is not positive, they are also impacted mentally. I know him well enough and it can happen at some points.’
Interestingly, Deschamps’ comments come just days after it was claimed that Pogba, at one point, looked all set to link back up with former club Juventus this past summer.
Speaking on his ‘Here We Go’ podcast, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano revealed his opinion that, had it not been for the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis, the Manchester United man ‘would’ve been playing’ for the Italian champions this season:
‘If there was no coronavirus, Paul Pogba today would’ve been playing for Juventus. Juve were ready to make an important bid for Pogba but with the financial crisis it was impossible.’