Former Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici said the Serie A champions have never been close to re-signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba.

Pogba is entering the final year of his United contract and the France international's future remains uncertain amid links with Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 28-year-old, who left United for Juve in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in 2016, has long been linked with the Bianconeri but Paratici played down the speculation.

"Paul Pogba back to Juventus? I think it is very difficult," Paratici, who is now managing director of football at Tottenham, told Sky Sport.

"There has never been a moment in which we have been close to taking him back."

Pogba was a standout performer at Euro 2020 before France's shock exit at the hands of Switzerland in the last 16.

He scored one and set up another in Les Bleus' four matches at the tournament, while also creating eight chances for his team-mates.

Pogba completed nine dribbles – a tally bettered by only eight others, some of whom have played a game more – while his 51 passes into the final third is the sixth-most of any player.

In 2020-21, Pogba scored three goals and supplied three assists as United finished second in the Premier League.

Across all competitions, Pogba netted six goals for United – who also reached the Europa League final but lost to Villarreal.

Marcus Rashford can get the most out of Paul Pogba at Manchester United should he learn to make runs in behind like Kylian Mbappe, according to club legend Wayne Rooney.

Pogba had been one of the standout performers at Euro 2020 prior to France's shock elimination at the hands of Switzerland at the last-16 stage.

The 28-year-old scored one and set up another in Les Bleus' four matches at the tournament, while also creating eight chances for his team-mates.

He completed nine dribbles – a tally bettered by only eight others, some of whom have played a game more – while his 51 passes into the final third is the sixth-most of any player.

Rooney believes a big part of Pogba's impressive performances was down to the movement of striker Mbappe, who ended the competition goalless despite having 14 shots.

And United's all-time leading goalscorer has challenged England forward Rashford to replicate Mbappe's positioning in order to unlock Pogba's best form at club level.

"Give Paul time and space and he has the ability and imagination to really hurt the opposition," Rooney said in his Times column. 

"Mbappe had a poor Euros overall but he did contribute to Paul's success. Teams sat off France because they were worried about Mbappe's pace.

"That helped buy Paul that bit of room to play in, and Mbappe's ability to run in behind allowed Paul to play a type of pass that he is so good at, the brave throughball right down the middle of the pitch.

"At United, if Marcus Rashford can develop his game and be encouraged to start making those Mbappe-style runs in behind, I believe you would see Paul doing more of what he does for his country in a club shirt."

Rashford has featured from the substitutes' bench in four of semi-finalists England's five Euro 2020 games so far, but he has yet to score, assist or even have a shot.

At club level, Rashford scored 21 goals for United in all competitions last season and became the first English player to score eight times for the club in European competition in a single season since Bobby Charlton in 1964-65.

Lionel Messi is out of contract but tipped to re-sign with Barcelona.

However, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly not prepared to give up on prising Messi to Paris.

Messi's future could become clearer after the Copa America.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STILL DREAMING OF MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are trying to trump Barcelona's offer to Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi is officially a free agent following the expiration of his Barcelona contract and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG and Manchester City.

While Messi has been tipped to re-sign at Camp Nou, PSG are reportedly refusing to give up hope on signing the Argentina superstar.

Amid uncertainty over Real Madrid and Liverpool target Kylian Mbappe, PSG have also been eyeing Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Manchester United are considering a swap deal involving Paul Pogba and Madrid defender Raphael Varane. The Red Devils are interested in signing Varane to bolster their defence, while Pogba has long been linked with Madrid and Juve.

Barca are stepping up their interest in Sampdoria and Denmark star Mikkel Damsgaard, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Ajax star Dusan Tadic has emerged as a target for Milan following the departure of Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato.

Eduardo Camavinga's Rennes departure is inevitable, according to Le Parisien. The France sensation has been linked with Madrid, PSG, United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich among others.

- The Transfer Window Podcast says free agent Sergio Ramos has been offered to Chelsea. After leaving Madrid, Ramos is reportedly poised to join PSG. At Stamford Bridge, Champions League holders Chelsea are eyeing Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland.

Paul Pogba "lost the plot" in France's dramatic Euro 2020 last-16 exit to Switzerland, according to 1998 World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit.

Didier Deschamps' side appeared to be coasting towards the quarter-finals on Monday after overcoming a 1-0 half-time deficit to lead 3-1 through Karim Benzema's double and a sumptuous long-range effort from Pogba.

But Haris Seferovic's second of the game nine minutes from time preceded a last-gasp equaliser from Mario Gavranovic, the build-up to which saw Pogba lose the ball too easily in midfield.

During the game Pogba was seen clashing angrily with team-mate Adrien Rabiot, with the families of both players also reportedly remonstrating in the stands.

France went on to lose 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out, with Kylian Mbappe missing the crucial spot-kick, and former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Petit was at a loss to explain the world champions' implosion.

"I don't really understand what happened to France versus Switzerland," Petit told PaddyPower.

"During the game we only played well for 20 minutes after [Hugo] Lloris stopped the penalty. After it, we looked confident and like a good team.

"But then there was one incident – Pogba lost the ball for the second Swiss goal – and France collapsed.

"We lost everything. Concentration, team spirit, desire – and the tie. Worst of all, we started fighting on the pitch between ourselves.

"There was a big clash between Rabiot and Pogba, who lost the plot, after the second Swiss goal and from then on we had no control, no confidence.

"We looked average – it's hard to explain."

 

It was a strange outing for Pogba, who had largely impressed with an industrious performance in central midfield. 

No France player won more than his 19 duels, while his 72 successful passes was also a team high and he had an impressive 93.6 per cent passing success rate in the opposition half.

By contrast, Mbappe's miss in the shoot-out was emblematic of a disappointing tournament in which the Paris Saint-Germain superstar failed to score.

None of his six shots against Switzerland managed to hit the target, including a glorious opportunity in extra time.

Petit alluded to the issues Mbappe had pre-tournament with Olivier Giroud, who had complained of a lack of service during a warm-up friendly against Bulgaria, leading to reports of a dispute between the two.

"Mbappe was asking for more responsibilities before the tournament, and there were stories about not passing the ball to Giroud," Petit added.

"There was even fighting in the stands between Rabiot, Mbappe and Pogba's families after the second goal.

"Then Mbappe's penalty is saved in the shootout. We looked so far away from the World Cup-winning team.

"It reminds me of our team in 2002, when we went out in the group stage of the World Cup. It's a real shame because it doesn't need to be like this."

 

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

The Paris Saint-Germain star is wanted in France and Spain.

France striker Mbappe is reportedly facing a decision over his future.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE HAS DECISION TO MAKE

Kylian Mbappe has a decision to make over his future as he enters the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, according to the front pages of Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS.

Mbappe will become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season and the PSG star continues to be heavily linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

L'Equipe, however, claims PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has taken over from sporting director Leonardo in contract negotiations and Mbappe is reportedly pleased with the club's early transfer business as Gianluigi Donnarumma prepares to join Georginio Wijnaldum in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Juventus is uncertain. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG, Madrid and Manchester United. Contracted to Juve until 2022, Romano says Ronaldo is not negotiating a new deal as the Serie A giants wait for the superstar to decide whether he stays or leaves.

- Aston Villa are hopeful of keeping star captain Jack Grealish amid interest from Premier League champions Manchester City, per The Telegraph.

- Bild reports RB Leipzig are set to sign Eintracht Frankfurt forward Andre Silva. The Portugal international starred in 2020-21 and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Madrid, United and City.

- United are eyeing Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka as a possible replacement for Paul Pogba, according to Sport Bild. Bayern and Goretzka have been discussing a new deal. It comes as Bayern also try to re-sign Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich. Coman has been linked with United and Liverpool.

Atalanta are in advanced talks to sign Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, claims Sky Sport Italia. Musso has previously been linked with Serie A champions Inter, who are reportedly eyeing Ajax's Andre Onana.

- Le10 Sport claims negotiations between PSG and former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos have hit a snag due to the club's unwillingness to offer a two-year deal. Ramos has also been linked with United, City, Chelsea and Juventus on a free transfer.

- A resolution for Lionel Messi's contract renewal at Barcelona does not seem to be close as he is set to officially become a free agent at midnight on Wednesday, claims Marca. Barca are pushing to complete the new deal.

Paul Pogba played down rumours regarding a return to Juventus as the Manchester United and France star insisted he is solely focused on Euro 2020.

Pogba provided a sublime assist for Karim Benzema's second goal in France's entertaining 2-2 draw with reigning European champions Portugal in the final Group F fixture on Wednesday.

France earned a last-16 showdown against Switzerland at Euro 2020, but Pogba was asked about his future after his latest hairstyle fuelled speculation.

Pogba dyed his hair black and white – the colours of ex-club Juventus – leading to questions about the Old Lady, where he played between 2012 and 2016.

"My hair was black and white as Juventus shirt tonight? I was expecting this question," Pogba joked with Sky Sport as he enters the final year of his current United contract.

"I'm not thinking about my future, I'm only focused on the Euros. And my hair always changes, you know!"

France are unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage games at major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), winning seven and drawing five.

Each of their last four matchday three group games in these major tournaments have ended level.

Aged 33 years and 186 days old, Benzema became the oldest player ever to score more than once in a major tournament match for France (World Cup and Euros), overtaking Zinedine Zidane (31years and 356 days) against England at Euro 2004.

Benzema scored his first goal with France since October 8, 2015 – five years and 258 days ago, the longest gap between two goals with Les Bleus since Didier Deschamps (seven years between his third and fourth goal, also against Portugal).

Cristiano Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's all-time international goalscoring record as he held his nerve to haul Portugal to a 2-2 draw with France and into the knockout rounds of Euro 2020.

Ronaldo scored the first of three penalties awarded by Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz at the Puskas Arena, although his old Real Madrid strike partner Karim Benzema levelled from the spot and put the world champions ahead at the start of the second half.

At that stage, the holders were staring at elimination as Les Blues eyed a measure of revenge for their Euro 2016 final defeat, but Ronaldo stepped up again at his country's hour of need when Jules Kounde was penalised for handball.

Having already overhauled Miroslav Klose – whose countrymen Germany flirted with disaster before salvaging a 2-2 draw against Hungary in Munich – to become the leading combined scorer at World Cups and European Championships combined, Ronaldo beat Hugo Lloris again to pull level with the mark set by Iran's Daei – one that has long been in the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's sights.

Paul Pobga unlocked the Portugal defence with a glorious 16th-minute throughball, although Kylian Mbappe's finish was not of the same standard and Rui Patricio saved.

Opposite number Hugo Lloris did not cover himself in glory when he rashly tried to punch Joao Moutinho's free-kick and clattered into Danilo Pereira. The France captain was cautioned and unable to atone as Ronaldo sent him the wrong way from the spot.

He was quickly followed into the book by Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez as Lahoz placed himself at the centre of the contest, and the official handed France a lifeline as he penalised Nelson Semedo for blocking off Mbappe and Benzema dispatched from 12 yards.

Another delicious Pogba pass completed a swift turnaround, as Benzema got away from Ruben Dias to coolly slot home two minutes into the second half.

Ronaldo almost found an instant response when he met Raphael Guerreiro's and he levelled with an hour played, Lahoz pointing to the spot once more when Kounde handled the Juventus star's delivery.

Pogba remained the game's outstanding player and Rui Patricio clawed out a stunning 25-yard effort from the Manchester United man before springing up to sharply deny Griezmann on the follow-up.

In stoppage time, Lahoz passed up the chance to give the fourth spot-kick of a fairly remarkable personal outing and a VAR check spared Bruno Fernandes for a clumsy challenge on fellow substitute Kingsley Coman.

What does it mean? France top 'group of death' as Portugal and Germany live to fight another day

The value of Benzema's brace was born out in France topping the group as the only undefeated team, earning a comparatively favourable tie against Switzerland in Bucharest. By contrast, Portugal travel to Seville to take on the world's number-one ranked side Belgium and Germany must face England at Wembley.

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has been uncertain for the past 12 months.

But the Red Devils are understood to be eager to hang on to the France international.

Pogba is entering into the final 12 months of his contract with United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO OFFER POGBA SENSATIONAL DEAL

Manchester United are readying a sensational new contract offer to make Paul Pogba the highest-paid Premier League player, reports The Sun.

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United in recent times, with Juventus rumoured to be interested.

The Red Devils are poised to ward off that interest with a new 104million deal, offering him wages of 400,000 a week for the next five years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims that new Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to bring Sergio Ramos to the club after exiting Real Madrid.

- Paris Saint-Germain have reached out to Real Madrid to discuss a move for Raphael Varane , who has been linked with Manchester United, reports Foot Mercato.

- Barcelona are keen on German full-back Robin Gosens , with the Catalans making contact with his Italian club Atalanta according to Sport1.

- Talksport claims that Borussia Dortmund will stand by their £77 million (€58m) valuation of Jadon Sancho, as Manchester United circle for the English winger.

- Arsenal have made contact with Eintracht Frankfurt to discuss a deal for striker Andre Silva , with a fee of around £34m (€25.5m) according to Express.

- Arsenal are also leading the race to sign Real Betis' Argentina international Guido Rodriguez reports Marca.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "source of inspiration for everyone", according to France forward Antoine Griezmann.

France face Ronaldo's Portugal in their final Group F game at Euro 2020, in what is a repeat of the Euro 2016 final.

Despite Ronaldo succumbing to injury on that night in Paris, Portugal went on to clinch the trophy with a 1-0, extra-time victory.

Both teams played on Saturday but fell short of the results they wanted. France could only draw 1-1 with Hungary in Budapest, while Portugal were beaten 4-2 by Germany.

Ronaldo put Fernando Santos' side ahead in Munich, taking his tally to the tournament to three goals in two games, while he is now on 107 international goals, two shy of matching the record set by Iran great Ali Daei.

Ronaldo has now scored 19 goals at World Cups and Euros – no European player has ever netted more across the two competitions, with only Miroslav Klose scoring as many.

The 36-year-old has also scored in 14 different major competition matches, the joint-most of any European player, alongside Germany greats Klose and Jurgen Klinsmann, though Ronaldo has never found the net against France, failing to score against them in 439 minutes of action across six games.

Saturday's results leave Group F firmly in the balance, with France needing to beat Portugal to guarantee top spot, while defeat could well see them finish third.

Regardless of what is riding on Wednesday's clash, Griezmann lauded Ronaldo – as well as his Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi – as an inspirational force.

"[He is] a source of inspiration for everyone," Griezmann told a news conference.

"It is extraordinary what he is doing at 36 years old. He and Messi, there will be no one like them, we are lucky to meet them on the field.

"He is a complete player, an example for all young and old, he can show the way for many young people."

Griezmann got France's equaliser against Hungary, levelling from close range to score his 11th major tournament goal.

Only Michel Platini (14), Just Fontaine (13) and Thierry Henry (10) have more for France, while only Henry and Platini have scored in more matches at World Cups or Euros than Griezmann, who will draw level with the duo should he score again at Euro 2020.

Asked if he is eyeing up Platini's record, Griezmann replied: "We are talking about a legend. That is not my main objective.

"I would rather win without scoring rather than draw by scoring. I prefer to help the team. If we score, so much the better for everybody."

One player who thrived for France in their win over Germany, but failed to replicate the performance against Hungary, was Paul Pogba, but Griezmann insisted the midfielder's display cannot be too harshly judged.

"We are not going to question a player when he was a little less good compared to the last match. It was very hot. Even I was tired," Griezmann said.

"That's how it is. He will have another match against Portugal to prove that he can go on and keep that level against Germany in every game."

As for Pogba himself, the Manchester United man believes the result in Budapest presents a wake-up call for tournament favourites Les Bleus.

"You should never compare matches against Germany or Hungary," Pogba told Telefoot.

"We are still a little disappointed because we wanted to win and qualify [for the last 16]. Now there is still one game left. It's not a slap, but a little pat on the face to say, 'guys, we know what's in store for us.'"

Harry Kane reportedly informed Tottenham of his desire to leave the club in the final week of the 2020-21 season.

The England international has since been linked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Tottenham are desperate to retain their talisman, let alone allow him to join a rival English club.

 

TOP STORY – KANE OPEN TO CONTINENTAL SWITCH

Harry Kane is willing to move abroad for his next challenge as Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain circle for his signature, according to 90min.

The report claims Kane is unimpressed with Tottenham's search for a new manager to replace Jose Mourinho and the England international has been linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

PSG, who are in the market for a striker having been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland amid doubts over the future of Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, are led by Kane's ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG have renewed their efforts to sign United star French midfielder Paul Pogba, reports to Le Parisien. Juventus and Madrid have also been linked.

United, PSG and Sevilla are keen to sign superstar defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid, claims 90min.

- Diario AS says Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak is attracting interest from Chelsea, joining Arsenal in the race to sign him.

Liverpool are interested in Sassuolo's Italy international winger Domenico Berardi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Miralem Pjanic could be headed back to Juventus from Barcelona on a two-year loan, part financed by the Catalans. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

Raphael Varane lauded Paul Pogba after the midfielder starred for France in their Euro 2020 opener against Germany.

Didier Deschamps' world champions started their Group F campaign with a 1-0 win in Munich on Tuesday – Mats Hummels' own goal the difference.

France also had two goals disallowed for offside, with Germany never truly clicking into gear as Joachim Low's decision to recall some veteran campaigners did not go according to script.

Instrumental in the win was Pogba, whose exceptional pass to Lucas Hernandez ultimately resulted in the unfortunate Hummels, who looked ponderous and out of place in Germany's back three, turning into his own net.

Playing on the right of a midfield three alongside Adrien Rabiot and N'Golo Kante, Pogba attempted more passes (52) than any of his team-mates, with 40 of them (76.9 per cent) finding a blue shirt.

His 78 touches topped the charts for France, while no other player on the pitch drew more fouls (four), made more interceptions (three) or gained possession on more occasions (12) than the Manchester United man.

"He started very early with France, he plays with a lot of maturity, he has so many qualities," Varane said of Pogba.

"The difficulty for him is to choose when to use his force. He is a complete player. He has found a balance in his game, he has been performing for many years, he brings a lot to the group in relation to his character. He is at a very good level."

Asked if Pogba could be a choice to captain Les Bleus, Varane added: "The captain's armband for Pogba in the future? He's maturing. He has this strength of character, he knows how to convey that to the group, he is respected and on top of that he sets the mood!

"He's a leader, he could easily wear the French team's armband."

 

Varane partnered Samuel Umtiti during France's successful run at the 2018 World Cup, but played alongside the sometimes erratic Presnel Kimpembe at the heart of Les Bleus' defence on Tuesday.

They combined for 12 clearances – Varane's tally of nine a game-high – and looked solid against a Germany attack featuring Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz and the returning Thomas Muller.

"It's a collective performance. When [Kylian] Mbappe loses a ball and recovers it five seconds later, that gives us strength," Varane said, referencing the high press France deployed at the Allianz Arena.

"Kimpembe and I have complementary qualities, we talk a lot. It's not a question of motivation in this kind of match. We motivate each other.

"We also spoke a lot with our midfield to defend well and succeed in countering opposing attacks. We had to be very focused."

Paul Pogba insisted France must deal with being labelled as favourites to win Euro 2020 after he led the way with a supreme performance against Germany.

Mats Hummels' own goal gifted Euro 2016 runners-up France a 1-0 win over Germany in their opening Group F encounter in Munich on Tuesday, putting Les Bleus well on their way to progressing to the last 16.

France – who finished with just one attempt on target – had opportunities to add to their lead, with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having goals disallowed for offside, though Joachim Low's Germany ultimately failed to make their luck count as they lost their opening game of a European Championship for the first time.

The winner came in fortuitous circumstances, with Hummels turning in from Lucas Hernandez's cross.

Pogba's exceptional pass played in France's left-back, however, and the Manchester United midfielder was on top form, attempting more passes (52) and more in Germany's half (31) than any Les Bleus player.

He also amassed a team-high 78 touches – albeit that total was 50 less than game-leader Toni Kroos (128) – and went in for 20 duels, the most of any player.

With the world champions having been tipped to lift the trophy they missed out on against Portugal on home soil five years ago, Pogba is adamant France must live up to the billing.

"The performance of the team is the most important. Without them, I would not have been so efficient," Pogba, who was also involved in a flashpoint with Antonio Rudiger when he appeared to complain that the Germany defender had bitten him, told M6.

"They helped me, they have everyone made the effort. This victory is for everyone, those who are also on the bench and in the stands to support us.

"Everyone was talking about our status as favourite, our attack, the group of death. We must assume our status with humility."

Didier Deschamps is aiming to become the first person to win the European Championship and World Cup as both a player and coach, and was delighted with a resilient display.

"We had a big match against a very good opponent," Deschamps told M6.

"I knew that my players were going to be ready, we were fighting for everything, even if in the first half we could have got the ball out a little better. We did not suffer that much in the second period. It's a tough game.

"This is our first game. In our group, taking these three points is important. We were at the level, this victory is good for us."

Deschamps' counterpart Low said he could not have asked for any more effort from his Germany side, who mustered 10 attempts to France's four, albeit only one of them hit the target.

"We really gave everything. We fought until the end, for 90 minutes," Low told beIN Sports.

"What we missed was a goal. We conceded a goal that we could have avoided, but otherwise I have no criticism to make. We lost a match, but we continue."

Germany next host defending champions Portugal, while France travel to Budapest to face Hungary.

There was a worrying incident shortly before France's Euro 2020 game with Germany involving a Greenpeace parachutist and the stadium Spidercam. No, honestly.

The apparent protester, his chute emblazoned with 'Kick out oil', slowly circled his way towards the Allianz Arena pitch but collided with the mechanism by which the camera was suspended. Debris almost hit Didier Deschamps in the France dugout, while the man was given medical attention after coming to rest on the turf. Nobody was injured, thankfully.

It turned out that surprising wonders dropping from the sky was the theme of the day, as France began their quest for continental glory with a 1-0 win in Munich. That's a circuitous route to talking about the spontaneous brilliance of Paul Pogba. No, honestly.

Twenty minutes had gone in the first meeting of Group F's three big guns. Germany and France had nullified one another, their 3-4-3 and 4-3-1-2 systems keeping the previous two World Cup winners from laying a glove on each other. Before the game, Deschamps described these teams as the best two in the continent, and you could certainly not accuse either side of lacking respect for their opponents.

Then, Pogba appeared. A throw-in from Benjamin Pavard, a one-two, a lay-off from Karim Benzema, and the ball was into the midfielder's feet. And then it was out of them, a languid, looping pass drifting over the heads of the German back three and into the path of Lucas Hernandez, the only player who seemed aware the move was even on. His mishit cross was promptly shinned into his own net by Mats Hummels, who was perhaps still wondering how the ball had got there.

 

In many ways, it was a typical Pogba pass: it was incredible he even saw it but, once he had, of course he was going to try it. The Manchester United man is the king of the unanticipated, never shying away from the implausible, for whom the very idea of keeping it simple seems like an affront. At club level, it makes him a target for traditionalist critics; for France, he becomes the match-winner.

One of Deschamps' real triumphs has been to construct an imperious unit out of France's mighty individuals. They allowed Germany more than 60 per cent of the possession but conceded only one shot on target, their defensive cohesion summed up by Antoine Griezmann sprinting back to challenge Joshua Kimmich on the right wing shortly before injury time.

When the defence is this strong, and when N'Golo Kante is patrolling the middle, it gives Pogba the licence – the compulsion, even – to try the unexpected. It's why he rejected two simple passes to the left and drove away from his own box surrounded by three players, winning a free-kick that led to Adrien Rabiot hitting the post. It's why he found himself in the number 10 position 66 minutes in, another sublime square ball over the top finished stylishly by Kylian Mbappe but ruled out for offside. It's why Benzema's late tap-in was also disallowed, Mbappe having strayed beyond the last man because Pogba's attempt at an elaborate turn ended up delaying his own throughball.

Pogba attempted 52 passes in total, more than anyone else for France. He had 78 touches, more than anyone else for France. He contested 20 duels, five aerial duels, won four fouls and made three interceptions – all more than anyone else for France. He won back the ball 12 times and gave it away a further 22, both, naturally, the highest figures in the contest.

Matches at these tournaments are so often tactical, attritional battles, where the risky pass, the inspired finish can make all the difference. That's standard practice for Pogba, a player who reminds us there's no reason to fear falling when you live for flying.

Paul Pogba has dismissed rumours of a rift between France team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud – while also stating he has not yet been offered a new Manchester United contract.

Giroud came off the bench to score a double in France's friendly win over Bulgaria on Tuesday, though he caused a stir in a post-match news conference when he seemed to suggest some irritation at strike partner Mbappe, who failed to pick out the Chelsea forward on several occasions.

During their time together on the pitch, there was only one pass between Giroud and Mbappe, with the former Arsenal man finding the Paris Saint-Germain star, who did not return the favour on any other occasion.

According to reports, a furious Mbappe wanted to hold a news conference to defend himself after hearing Giroud's comments.

Pogba, however, scotched rumours of any discontent in the squad as France prepare for their Euro 2020 campaign.

"The only tensions are on the back, on the legs. The physiotherapists are there for that," Pogba joked in a news conference.

"Frankly, I'm on the inside, there is nothing, there has always been a very good atmosphere with everyone. We will go directly to the subject – between Olivier and Kyky, there is nothing at all.

"I think that what was said may have been poorly conveyed. Kylian, his qualities, he can score and do a lot of assists, he does it, he plays for the team even though I always tell him that it would be good if he defended a little more!

"There is nothing, nothing has come out, I don't feel any tension, nothing at all."

The reports concerning Mbappe and Giroud were not the only rumours Pogba had to contend with.

On Thursday, several reports suggested his club United had started talks over a new deal, with Pogba's current contract expiring in 2022, while there has also been talk of interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

Though he did not confirm if initial talks had started or not, Pogba insisted no offer was on the table.

"Contacts with Paris? I have one year of contract left. Everyone knows that," Pogba said.

"No concrete proposal [from United] yet. I am still at United. My thoughts are about the Euros. I am focused. I have more experience than before, I am focused on the present. I have an agent who takes care of all that."

Paul Pogba has warned France they need to remain humble to avoid Euro 2020 disappointment, adamant they will just be seen as a "PlayStation team" if they are not successful.

Les Bleus head into the Euros well fancied for more glory, having won the 2018 World Cup and seeing their already-remarkable pool of talent improve even further.

France are one of two European nations – with Belgium – to have reached at least the quarter-finals of the past three major tournaments, while their squad accumulated the second-most minutes (522,421) across the top five European Leagues this season among those to qualify for the Euros – they certainly are not short of experience.

As many as 14 of their 26-man squad were in Russia three years ago, while they are now able to add Karim Benzema into the mix again – the Real Madrid star recalled after nearly six years in the international wilderness.

Benzema goes into the tournament on the back of his best goalscoring season (30 in all competitions) since netting 32 in 2011-12 and bolsters a position that was arguably seen as the weakest in the France squad, with Olivier Giroud often chosen to lead the line in Russia.

 

Add Benzema to Kylian Mbappe and a semi-resurgent Antoine Griezmann, who had a hand in 25 goals (15 scored and 10 assists) across all competitions since the turn of the year for Barcelona, and Didier Deschamps has a potentially frightening front three.

Griezmann boasts a brilliant record in international tournaments after being involved in more goals (14) over the past two such events than any other European player.

 

But France are not just a force to be reckoned with in attack, their record of 1.6 shots on target conceded per 90 minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifiers was not bettered by any other team, though their pedigree and reputation will count for nothing if they fail to rise to the occasion at the Euros, according to Pogba.

"We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don't win a trophy," the Manchester United midfielder told Eurosport.

"We have to live up to expectations and there'll be even more expected with Karim's return. It's nice to see a teamsheet like that... It's always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.

"Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.

"We must remain humble. I want to give this message: It's not a foregone conclusion. We hear a lot of talk but we keep out feet on the ground."

Les Bleus will be attempting to become the fourth team to win back-to-back World Cup and Euros – in no particular order – after West Germany (Euro 1972, World Cup 1974), France (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).

If Deschamps lifts the trophy at Euro 2020, he will become the first person ever to win the World Cup and Euros both as player and manager.

There is lots on the line for France, and they certainly have a squad capable of making amends for their Euro 2016 final disappointment.

But, as Pogba has pointed out, arrogance will do them little good in a group that also contains Germany and defending champions Portugal.

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