France head coach Didier Deschamps has no concerns over Paul Pogba’s form despite the world’s most expensive player making an underwhelming start to his second spell at Manchester United.
The Premier League club shattered the global transfer record by agreeing a deal worth an initial £89m with Juventus for Pogba but he has so far failed to find his best form at Old Trafford, where he progressed through the youth ranks before joining the Italian champions in 2012.
The 23-year-old missed a pair of gilt-edged opportunities and hit the crossbar during stoppage time in United’s frustrating 1-1 Premier League draw against Stoke City on Sunday and is struggling to enjoy a consistent influence over games.
Deschamps now has Pogba back under his charge for France’s World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Netherlands and has urged patience with his star midfielder.
“He has changed his club team and needs to find his bearing with his new team-mates,” Deschamps told a news conference at Clairefontaine.
“With Paul, we always expect more. When he does something neutral, often it is not enough.
“He is someone we expect to make assists in every game – there is an expectation that is too large.
“Paul is okay in his own head. He knows what he wants.”
France have once again convened without Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid striker told Telefoot over the weekend that he was keen to end his international exile, stating “I love the France team… I love my country”.
Nevertheless, such sentiments are unlikely to hold any sway with Deschamps.
“I expect nothing from Karim, like the other players,” he said. “What you say or write will not change anything in what I think and which players I will choose.”
One player Deschamps is unable to choose is Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, who retired from international football despite being initially called for the forthcoming matches.
“I accept it because things are clear,” the coach said. “It is his decision, I can understand it.
“Ideally, it would have been better if he had warned me before. He has experience with the France team that has not been the happiest.
“He was honest enough to tell me before you [the press] communicated it. I wish him good luck with his club for the rest of his career.”