France boss Didier Deschamps has urged Paul Pogba to forget his unhappy spell at Manchester United and focus on the national team’s upcoming friendly matches.
Pogba is enduring his most difficult period since returning to United from Juventus for an initial £89million fee in August 2016.
The 25-year-old was hauled off during Premier League defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle United and was left out of the starting line-up for the Champions League defeat to Sevilla and FA Cup quarter-final win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Deschamps admits Pogba is unlikely to be enjoying his time at Old Trafford at present but wants him to concentrate on the games against Colombia and Russia this month.
“It’s not a specific case to Paul. It happens at different call-ups, that a player is not so good or is going through a certain situation at his club,” he told a news conference.
“It could be Paul, there, and others at a different time, and I will do as I have always done: I will talk with him, to understand, as I don’t have all the elements.
“But that’s what I told them [the squad] at midday: what happened at the weekend and before is no longer on the agenda. We have to focus on Russia and Colombia. That’s part of our job as coaches.
“Obviously, this is a situation he won’t appreciate in relation to everything he’s done. There can be many, varied reasons. He can’t be happy with what he’s going through with his club.”
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele earned a recall to Deschamps’ set-up following a run of good displays under Ernesto Valverde in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old was not involved for his country towards the end of last year, initially being left out while Barca tried to secure his transfer from Borussia Dortmund last August, before a serious hamstring injury saw him miss the final World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus and a friendly win over Wales.
Deschamps has been pleased with Dembele’s recent displays but wants him to become more “efficient” in attack.
“The summer was complicated for him and it prevented him from being there in September,” he said. “That was before his injury, then there was a slight recurrence.
“He has come back well. He’s been able to string together a few games and his latest performances prove he has found his legs.
“If he scores and assists, it’s better. It has not always been the case and it is on this that he has to be more efficient.”
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