Bacary Sagna defended Paul Pogba, claiming Manchester United’s £90million man is criticised because of his ability.
Pogba has had a mixed season for club and country, but despite rumours surrounding his place in the France team, he looks set to start in Les Bleus’ World Cup opener against Australia on Saturday.
Sagna, who played with Pogba at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, says the midfielder will not let the pressure and high expectations placed on him affect his game.
“He is quite a confident man. But of course it’s annoying when you hear stuff about you from critics,” Sagna told the London Evening Standard.
“Why is he criticised? Because of his ability. He is gifted; he was born like this and worked really hard. He can do skills that other midfield player can’t.
“That’s why people see him as a 10 or an eight, but he is playing six and when you play there, you cannot afford to try some tricks in that area of the pitch.
“He has ability which is above normal and he can do a lot more offensively, but we have other players and it’s his job to protect the defence and work with the team.”
Former Manchester City and Arsenal full-back Sagna also suggested that Pogba’s inconsistent performances may be down to coaching.
“Everyone has to remember that he is a midfield player,” he said.
“Because of his abilities, which are not normal for a player like him, people expect a lot more from him.
“You have to remember that he has some direction from the manager and you have to listen to him – you have to respect the orders on the pitch, because what is more important is the team.
“In some games he’s going to have more freedom to attack and some others he will have to hold like a defensive midfielder. The players are the only ones who know this on the pitch, the fans do not know.”