Paul Pogba can cope with the weight of expectation and shine for France at the World Cup, according to Bacary Sagna.
After experiencing an up-and-down season with Manchester United, his second back at Old Trafford, midfielder Pogba is considered a pivotal member of Didier Deschamps’ national side.
He missed out on glory at Euro 2016 on home soil after losing in the final to Portugal, though France will hope to go one better in Russia.
Sagna, who played against the Portuguese in Paris two years ago, believes Pogba – so often scrutinised for his performances for club and country – has the “big character” required to thrive at the tournament.
“People expect him to be decisive every single game but he is a human being, he has his own qualities,” Sagna told Omnisport at the launch of social media ranking tool Primetag.
“He is very talented, naturally gifted, but he is a holding midfielder player. As midfield players you need to defend first and that is what he is doing, he is focusing on the team.
“He has a big character and he is really confident in himself and I know Paul will shine during the World Cup.”
Still only 25, Pogba has already made 54 international appearances, while he has also experienced playing in finals at club level with Juventus and United.
Sagna feels his compatriot’s presence with France can have a positive impact on the younger members of Deschamps’ star-studded squad, including teenage Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.
“He can deal with the pressure and he is maybe going to remove the pressure off the other players because some of the players are very young, they are only 19 or 20,” the former Arsenal and Manchester City full-back added.
“He has been playing big games with Juventus, Manchester United and the national team so, yeah, he can deal easily with it.”
Pogba and France open their campaign in Group C against Australia at the Kazan Arena on Saturday, followed by fixtures against Peru and Denmark.