Hugo Lloris has praised Paul Pogba ahead of Tottenham’s visit to Manchester United, saying the under-fire midfielder was key to France’s World Cup win.
Pogba and Jose Mourinho’s relationship has come under increased scrutiny since France lifted the World Cup in July. Mourinho appeared to criticise the Frenchman in the wake of Les Bleus’ triumph while agent Mino Raiola’s comments have further ramped up speculation over Pogba’s future, with Barcelona reported to be interested.
But Lloris, who faces Pogba and United at Old Traffrord with Tottenham on Monday, has told L’Equipe the midfielder was integral to France’s success in Russia.
“We showed that French players have character and that we’re strong together,” he said. “If you’re not strong together, you fall at the first hurdle. There are players who were revelations in that regard.
“For example, Paul. People have always been telling him to focus on the team, and he couldn’t have done it any better than during the World Cup. He was at the team’s service from the start to the end and was rewarded for that. We were all rewarded.”
Defeating Croatia 4-2 in the final was especially sweet for Lloris, who weathered criticism before the World Cup began as France limped through qualifying and their build-up friendlies.
“I can’t forget, because sometimes it was over the top,” Lloris said. “But the key to my success was not to fall into the trap, to refuse to get into an area I’m not comfortable in, and to stay focused on myself, on the essential things. That’s what was my strength.”
While Lloris said he wants Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe to build on his success, he also felt bad for Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, who would have been called up for the World Cup if not for an Achilles’ tendon injury.
“Kylian Mbappe is world champion at 19,” Lloris said. “It’s a career trajectory totally different [than mine]. He has to use that. He should win the Ballon d’Or. That’s destiny, and it makes me think of those who could have been there, like Lolo [Koscielny] and others.
“Those are the ups and downs of a career, and you have to spare a thought for them.”