France and Manchester United have been dealt a serious blow following an injury picked up by Paul Pogba in training for his national side.
A simple shooting drill at the training ground on Monday saw the midfielder pull up grabbing his thigh after an attempted shot.
“Bad” is the prognosis of Eurosport France’s Cyril Morin, citing reports which speculate Pogba will “miss two months at least” with the injury, ruling him out of France’s remaining two World Cup qualifiers and a number of matches for United.
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The injury is the latest blow for Pogba who has had something of a disappointing season at Old Trafford.
Unable to nail down a regular starting place in the team, the 28-year-old is also in the middle of a three-match suspension following his red card after coming on as a substitute in United humiliating 5-0 defeat at home to Liverpool in October.
Pogba’s overall career at United has been somewhat hit and miss following his £90million move from Juventus in 2016.
With his current contract set to expire next summer, Pogba could walk away from the club for free and while there has been talk of a new deal to extend his stay in Manchester, this latest setback and absence from the first team is unlikely to hasten that decision.
In fact, with Pogba allowed to open talks with other clubs in January, the odds of him remaining a United player creep ever higher.
“Pogba was hoping to renew with United to become one of the biggest earners in Premier League,” says Morin. “This injury and his recent struggles aren’t going to help him in order to have this new contract.
“He's out until 2022 so he will have to prove quickly that he deserves his raise [if he is to stay]”
Pogba was sent off in his most recent United game
Image credit: Getty Images
Morin insists that Pogba’s “reputation on the market is still very high” meaning he remains an attractive proposition for the likes of Real Madrid, his former club Juventus, and Paris Saint Germain, who will no doubt be monitoring his situation.
Pogba’s latest setback is unlikely to deter any interested party according to Morin, but lack of football and his issues at United may be of concern. “I think that his inconsistency at clubs is more a factor than his injuries,” he says. “In five years at United, he never managed to be what we expected him to be. For me, Pogba is more a 'tournament' guy than a 'league' guy.
“But his profile is so rare, and his marketing ability so high, that he will remain very attractive for many teams even if his salary might be a problem in this post-Covid world.”
France's 'hidden captain'
The world champions sit top of their World Cup qualifying group as they look to defend their crown in Qatar next year. Les Bleus need just one point from their two games at home to Kazakhstan and away to Finland to seal their place in the Middle East but will Pogba’s absence be felt in these games?
“Pogba has maybe been the most important player for Didier Deschamps since 2016,” states Morin. “Along with Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane and Hugo Lloris.
“He’s a key factor for France’s success and unlike Griezmann for example, he has remained very, very decisive for France recently. He was clearly the best [France] player at Euros after being a very important piece in 2018.
“He’s the hidden captain in the locker room, the one who speaks and makes the connection with all the other players. He’s central so he will be deeply missed.
“But, against Kazakhstan and Finland, France could win without him in normal conditions.”
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'Other options aren't at the same level'
The fixtures have perhaps proved kind for France so Pogba’s absence will likely not be felt too badly as they aim to secure their place in Qatar.
Regardless of the outcome and performance of any potential replacements in these matches, Morin feels, perhaps in contrast to his situation at United, the injury will not affect the player’s standing in the French team long-term.
“Pogba-Kante is the most competitive pair, by far, in the midfield. All other options aren't at the same level.
“So, if everything goes well in the coming months, with no bad injuries or exclusions, we will see them together in Qatar”
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