Jose Mourinho perfectly summed up why Paul Pogba prefers playing for France over Man Utd
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Paul Pogba has been in the headlines yet again this week over comments he has made while away on international duty.
The Manchester United midfielder is rarely shy in front of a microphone, and tends to really speak his mind while he is representing France.
The 27-year-old's inconsistent form at club level has once again been called into question at the start of this season, and he was dropped to the bench for United's last two games in a row against Istanbul Basaksehir and Everton.
Speaking following France's 1-0 win over Portugal on Saturday, Pogba opened up on his difficult period at Old Trafford – and admitted he has been relishing the change of scene during international week.
Paul Pogba appears much happier playing for France than Manchester United
(Image: Imago/PA Images)
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"It's a breath of fresh air when you come here," Pogba said. "We have a truly fantastic squad. When we come here, we're all happy.
"We're all pleased to see one another. We really enjoy ourselves on the pitch.
"We're a real family, and we have so much fun when we come here."
The comments are hardly likely to endear himself to a United fanbase which is already growing frustrated with Pogba's attitude.
Yet as far back as two years ago, a certain Jose Mourinho was already able to tell the difference between the Pogba in a France shirt and the Pogba in a United shirt.
Speaking to ESPN while he was still United boss, and just after France had won the World Cup in the summer of 2018, Mourinho said: "The World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give his best.
Jose Mourinho also struggled to consistently get the best out of Paul Pogba
(Image: SKY SPORTS)
"It is closed for a month, he can only think about football, he is completely isolated from the external world.
"During the regular season you can have a big match, then a smaller match, and you can lose your focus.
"In the World Cup the matches are always getting more important and it feeds the motivation and the concentration of the player."
Mourinho also spoke about how a player like Pogba thrives on the pressure of delivering the goods more at international level than club level.
"Players (like him) really feel the extra commitment with the people, with the country, that extra responsibility," Mourinho added.
"From an emotional point of view it even makes them, sometimes, overcommitted. I think it's a perfect environment for a player like him to fully focus on the job."
There is pressure on Pogba to deliver for United in the coming months
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Mourinho's words seem particularly prophetic now, with Pogba's impressive performance against Portugal worlds away from, for example, his showing in United's defeat to Arsenal earlier this month.
Somehow, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to find a way to get Pogba feeling the happiness and freedom he experiences when he plays for France.
If not, it will be another long, frustrating season at Old Trafford for the perennial enigma that is Paul Pogba.