Paul Pogba is being ‘impacted mentally’ by his current predicament at Manchester United, France national team boss Didier Deschamps believes.
The midfielder has blown hot and cold with Red Devils fans ever since he returned to the club in a whopping £90million deal from Juventus in 2016.
The 27-year-old has shown glimpses of brilliance but has yet to perform on a consistent basis for Manchester United, and question marks have surrounded his future for the past few years.
His struggles for form has seen criticism mount in recent weeks and his poor performances continued in the international arena in midweek, as he was a member of the France squad that surprisingly lost 2-0 at home against Finland.
And there is no doubt in Deschamps mind that Pogba’s current struggles at United are effecting his usually impressive displays for his country.
“He’s not in his best form, of course. I knew that before the game,” Deschamps told the media on Friday.
“This match was meant to give him some rhythm. He knew that he would only play for an hour.
“Like all players who have a club situation that is not positive, they are also impacted mentally. I know him well enough and it can happen at some points.”
While the World Cup-winning coach backed the player to recover from his current issues, he admitted that Pogba cannot be considered an automatic starter for Saturday’s Nations League fixture against Portugal.
“Periods like this can happen,” he explained. “He has the knowledge of the highest level, the pride and the spirit to be able to answer his critics.
“After that, I have decisions to make on all the elements compared to the other players.”
Another high-profile member of the France squad struggling for fitness is Kylian Mbappe, with the Paris Saint-Germain star still a doubt to line up against a Portugal squad containing his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo.
“He’ll do the first part of training individually,” Deschamps said of the forward. “We’ll see later. I’ll wait for what happens at training.
“We’ll do a check tomorrow morning to see how he is before making a decision for the match.”