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Paul Pogba says he is the most criticised player in the world

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has stated that he feels he is the most criticised player in the world. Just short of two years ago, the Frenchman made his £89 million transfer from Juventus to the Old Trafford club, returning four years after he left. Having two seasons in the Premier League under his belt, and largely failing to recapture the form he had shown in Italy, Pogba has seen criticism from many. Pogba started his FIFA World Cup on Saturday and was criticised by pundits before and during the match against Australia.

With France drawing 1-1, both teams winning a penalty, Pogba struck late in the match, with a deflected effort, to win the game for his country, a great start for them in the competition. The 25-year-old Frenchman also put the ball through for Antoine Griezmann, who won the first penalty in the game with France taking the lead. Pogba, subject to much debate over the last two years, has largely failed to deliver consistently for United. Speaking to Telefoot after France’s World Cup opening victory, Pogba spoke about the criticism he has received, saying:

“It’s funny, I went from the biggest transfer in the world, to the most criticised player in the world.”

In their opening World Cup match game, France, despite having the most strength-in-depth in their squad, were not as good as many thought they would be. A win in the opening game will be a big boost but playing a better game is something France and Pogba would need to be doing, especially if they think they can replicate their World Cup-winning form when they hosted the competition in 1998, lifting the trophy against all odds.

France made the final of the UEFA European Championships in 2016, being beaten 1-0 by Portugal. Pogba did not have a great competition, scoring just one goal in the tournament and largely underperforming, along with his teammates, on their way to and including the final. France manager Didier Deschamps believes his side will need to become much better in their next game, which is against Peru and will be played in Ekaterinburg on Thursday afternoon (KO 16:00 BST). Pogba agreed with his manager, saying:

“As the coach said, we can do better and we have to do better.”

Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, who has been criticised himself in recent times, has accused the French of “loving to criticise their heroes” after Pogba has been hung out to dry despite scoring the winning goal for France, albeit by deflection and after being criticised throughout the past season for United. Raiola believes that this France team are one of the top contenders to lift the World Cup this summer but feels the nation could be more supportive of the players. Speaking to RMC Sport, reported by Sky Sports, Raiola said:

“He reconfirmed what a big player he is and the importance he has in a team. Not only in a match, where he was probably the most important in the match, but also I saw how he was a perfect ambassador for the French team and for France.

“Paul is an extraordinary player with an extraordinary personality. He is one of these players born to have this responsibility. He has grown as a player, has more experience with age – it’s normal – but he is the same player I have always had. He is a player that wants to do good for the French side.

“He is an admirable player. France should be proud to have him. They should not always criticise him, that’s easy to do. The French like to criticise their heroes. It’s not just with Paul. The players know they need to always improve, because they are big players. He knows that will not always suffice.

“But it would be nice to be more positive. I don’t think France likes heroes. There is lots of envy, jealousy and these things but at the end these players represent their country, their club in a perfect manner.

“I don’t understand the critics – for Paul specifically. Everyone wants to criticise him, but he is a guy who remains positive and works hard. He doesn’t have anything to prove, he has to give his best and help the team and that is what he does.”

The level of criticism Pogba has received has largely been uncalled for. Sky Sports pudit Graeme Souness seems to have something in for Pogba as he never seems to praise him and busts a gut to ensure he gets his criticism in for Pogba, despite times when United were not involved in a match he was the pundit for. Pogba does deserve criticism as he has not done himself any favours recently, especially when playing for United towards the end of the season, not putting his all into the performance, which as a professional he should be doing.

Looking at what has been written about him though, seems like a witch hunt at times with some just criticising the player for the sake of it. Pogba should use the criticism to put his all into his performances, silence the critics with the playing style and ability we all know he is capable of, consistently. That will show that the criticism that has been directed at him, will start to curtail, as long as he does what he is expected to do. Nobody likes a player who has all the ability in the world but none of the interest in putting on the table, which at times feels like what is happening.

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