Paul Pogba will take leadership of France at the World Cup this summer as they aim to live up to their billing as one of the tournament favourites, he told Canal+.
France have one of the most gifted squads going to Russia, but they were underwhelming in qualifying, losing to Sweden and drawing 0-0 at home to Luxembourg.
Pogba has been among those singled out as not fulfilling their potential, but when asked by Christian Karembeu when he would emerge as a leader, the Manchester United midfielder said he would this summer.
“I hope now, at the World Cup,” Pogba said. “I’m going to take the reins of the France team, try to be the boss on and off the pitch.
“I hear it a lot. I hope to give my answer on the pitch and show everyone. I was the best young player [in 2014]. I hope I’ll be the best player overall at the World Cup. That would be great.”
Pogba knows that if he fails to deliver, he will again be targeted for criticism — but he is not overly concerned by the negativity, telling former United teammate Memphis Depay, now at Lyon, in a video for Canal that it “gives me strength.”
“Today, we fight for those we love, for the kids who play football in the rain,” Pogba said. “It gives you a real buzz when they wear our shirt. … I’m going to be criticised again, but it doesn’t matter. I’m here. La Pioche is here. Did you hear me? He’s here.”
Coach Didier Deschamps will name his 23-man squad on Thursday as France, also grouped with Peru and Denmark, will open the group stage against Australia in Kazan on June 16.