Deschamps says taking half-fit Paul Pogba to World Cup is 'inconceivable'

By Sports Desk September 15, 2022

Didier Deschamps insisted he will not take a half-fit Paul Pogba to the World Cup after France saw several stars ruled out of their upcoming Nations League fixtures.

Pogba has yet to make a competitive appearance since returning to Juventus on a free transfer in July. He is a doubt for the tournament in Qatar after opting to undergo surgery to solve a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

The 2018 World Cup winner is not the only injury concern for Deschamps ahead of Nations League contests with Austria and Denmark this month.

Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema has been left out of their squad after suffering a knee injury, though Carlo Ancelotti said the striker was "progressing well" earlier this week.

Meanwhile, N'Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman are also out.

Pogba's injury is the most worrying for Deschamps, who was unable to offer any update on his condition on Thursday.

"It is impossible today to affirm anything [except] through the intervention and the treatment protocol he has," Deschamps said.

"I know very well Paul, with whom I talk regularly. Today, no one, even him, can say whether he will be there [at the World Cup]. I don't know if he can be cured.

"Since I've been here, I've never for a single final tournament taken a player if he was not fully recovered. Paul, he's not here to amuse the gallery.

"If he is recovered, it would be a very good thing. He won't come if he's not fit. He doesn't want that either. It's inconceivable. The number of players who will be there, they will all be ready to play.

"It is a question in relation to the competition, those who will be selected will be able to answer these requirements."

Benzema's absence means Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann could be handed an opportunity in Les Bleus' upcoming games, despite seeing his game-time limited at club level this season.

With Atleti reportedly looking to avoid meeting a purchase clause in Griezmann's loan deal, the striker has played just 192 minutes in all competitions this season, though he has still found the net three times.

Deschamps is not concerned by the 31-year-old's lack of action, adding: "At least he's not tired. He has a situation that you know limits his playing time.

"He remains an important and decisive player for his club. He aspires to better, to do more. It's been a good moment [even though] he hasn't done a full 90 minutes."

Deschamps has named three uncapped players in his 23-man squad for this month's fixtures: Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani, and Monaco duo Youssouf Fofana and Benoit Badiashile.

France have posted two draws and two defeats in their first four games in Group A1 of the Nations League, leaving the world champions battling relegation from the competition's top tier. They host Austria on September 22 and travel to face Denmark three days later.

France squad: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Milan); Benoit Badiashile (Monaco), Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United); Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid); Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid); Olivier Giroud (Milan), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).

Related items

  • Knockout bow beyond Ramos' 'wildest dreams' but hat-trick hero unsure of quarter-final role Knockout bow beyond Ramos' 'wildest dreams' but hat-trick hero unsure of quarter-final role

    Goncalo Ramos is unsure if he will be picked ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo again in Portugal's World Cup quarter-final after a last-16 experience beyond his "wildest dreams".

    The Benfica striker was a surprise choice from the start in Tuesday's game against Switzerland but justified his selection by hitting a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout.

    The pre-match focus was on Ronaldo's demotion to the bench, but Ramos hogged the limelight once the match kicked off.

    Even starting seemed improbable for the 21-year-old, who made his international debut in November, let alone scoring three times.

    "Not even in my wildest dreams I thought of being in the starting eleven in the knockout stages of the World Cup," Ramos said, but he does not know if he will keep his place for a last-eight meeting with Morocco.

    The forward added to RTP: "These are matters that are not for me. I have to work to the fullest and then you see what's going to happen."

    Ramos was named the player of the match and revealed Ronaldo's support in his post-match news conference.

    "Honestly, in our team, no-one talked about [Ronaldo being dropped]," he said. "Cristiano as captain did as he always does, helped us, encouraged us, not only to myself but to my colleagues."

    The level of Ramos' performance may have come as a shock to some, but not to team-mate Bruno Fernandes.

    "If you've never heard about him, it's because people are not aware of the quality of the Portuguese league," the Manchester United man said.

    "He has been doing really well in the Champions League, first in the group of PSG, so people should be aware of Goncalo, of his qualities.

    "I'm really happy for him, because a hat-trick at his age is a big achievement. But for Goncalo and for everyone else, the most important thing is that we are in the quarter-finals against Morocco."

  • Bruno on benched Ronaldo: 'Do you think Cristiano would be happy?' Bruno on benched Ronaldo: 'Do you think Cristiano would be happy?'

    Bruno Fernandes suggested Cristiano Ronaldo had been angry with Fernando Santos' decision to bench the Portugal captain, while he believes the veteran forward also would have thrived in the 6-1 win over Switzerland.

    Ronaldo came out of the Portugal XI following a moment of controversy in the side's previous match against South Korea, when he appeared to insult Santos after being substituted.

    Santos "really didn't like it at all" but insisted the matter had been "resolved" before naming Ronaldo among the substitutes against Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup.

    Goncalo Ramos, drafted in to replace Ronaldo, scored a hat-trick in a stunning display at Lusail Stadium, while the Portugal skipper failed to net as a second-half substitute – though he did see an effort rightly ruled out for offside,

    Asked of Ronaldo's reaction following Santos' decision, Fernandes said: "It was like everyone else. Do you think anyone likes to be on the bench?

    "Jose Sa – he didn't play one minute, he knows that he's the third goalkeeper, but he's not happy to be on the bench.

    "Do you think Cristiano would be happy? If the manager in the next game put me on the bench, I would be angry."

    But Fernandes bristled at the idea Portugal had won specifically because Ronaldo had come out of the team.

    "We won the first two games with Cristiano in the first XI," the midfielder said. "If Cristiano had played, he could have scored three goals and nobody would be talking about Cristiano on the bench.

    "Cristiano is doing his job, he's doing his part, and he's happy with the result, because the goal for everyone is to go as far as possible.

    "I don't think people should be talking about the situation with Cristiano and why he's playing, why he's not playing.

    "When Cristiano plays and the team wins, nobody talks about that. When Cristiano plays and the team loses, everyone talks about that."

    Even as Portugal scored goal after goal in the second half, the crowd in Lusail chanted Ronaldo's name and jeered as they waited for his introduction.

    Fernandes added: "Cristiano is the most famous player in the world, of all time. No-one is more famous than Cristiano in sports. Not in football, in sports.

    "It's normal that people come to see Cristiano, cheering him and everything. I don't see any surprise in that. I don't know why anyone is surprised by that.

    "Cristiano is Cristiano. It's normal that people are cheering him, even if he's on the bench and not playing. It's a simple thing."

  • Ronaldo risks 'scruffy end' to career after being dropped by Portugal, says Neville Ronaldo risks 'scruffy end' to career after being dropped by Portugal, says Neville

    Cristiano Ronaldo risks bringing his career to an unsavoury end after displaying a petulant attitude in recent months, according to his former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville.

    Ronaldo was dropped by Portugal ahead of their World Cup last-16 tie with Switzerland on Tuesday, having irritated coach Fernando Santos with his reaction to being substituted in a group-stage defeat to South Korea. 

    Portugal did not suffer for the striker's absence as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of the Swiss, teeing up a quarter-final meeting with Morocco.

    Ronaldo has courted controversy on several occasions this season, with his turbulent second spell at United being ended by mutual consent last month after he said the club had "betrayed" him in an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.

    Speaking to ITV ahead of Portugal's game on Tuesday, Neville showed little sympathy for Ronaldo's situation, saying he must accept the end of his career is approaching.

    "This is a manager who has had an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years," Neville said.

    "There are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren't willing to tell him the truth and I think he does need to listen to the truth.

    "It's becoming a little bit of a scruffy end. The petulance, the stomping around, the sulking… it's got to stop because it doesn't reflect well on him at all.

    "His long-term legacy is set, he's protected, he's one of the all-time great players, but in the short term, he's got to do a lot better because… is the Juventus manager wrong? Is the Manchester United manager wrong? And now is the Portugal manager wrong? There's three of them that now have done the same thing with him.

    "You're leaving the game early like you did at United twice, stomping off the other day [against South Korea]. It's coming to that point where he's not accepting the end of his career very well."

    Ronaldo – who has been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Professional League outfit Al Nassr in recent days – was introduced as a 73rd-minute substitute with Portugal already 5-1 up.

    While Neville believes Ronaldo's drive to be the best served him well in the past, he says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner must now accept a more limited role.

    "His single mindedness has been one of his greatest strengths over the last 10 or 15 years," Neville added.

    "His determination to become one of the best in the world, to score the most goals, to break all the records, that fight with [Lionel] Messi.

    "But there comes a point where you still have to think about the collective and that's your team-mates in the dressing room."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.