World Cup briefing: Paul Pogba wants to be France’s new Zidane
Rio Ferdinand has his say on Pogba, Belgium confirm their squad and Jamie Vardy looks set for England start
Rio Ferdinand believes Russia 2018 is the perfect opportunity for France star Paul Pogba to show the world his talents and be remembered as an all-time great like Zinedine Zidane.
Midfielder Pogba has had an indifferent season at Manchester United and there are doubts over his Old Trafford future because of his shaky relationship with his boss Jose Mourinho.
Former England defender Ferdinand, who also played at Old Trafford, says that if Pogba shines at the World Cup it won’t just help France but also United when he returns next season.
“Paul is someone who wants to be known as a great player,” said Ferdinand in an interview with the Daily Mirror. “When you look at the history in the French national team – with Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane – he wants to be remembered as a player like that.
“But Pogba has to play well. And he has to win – and that’s not easy. There will be pressure because expectations are huge on France. Pogba and [Antoine] Griezmann will be carrying the hopes of their nation on their shoulders – and I would like to see Paul do it.
“He’s a showman and someone who wants to be the centrepiece of what comes out of that team. Now he has the opportunity to do that.”
Martinez confirms Belgium squad
Vincent Kompany has been named in Belgium’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup despite injuring his groin at the weekend.
Manchester City skipper Kompany was taken off during the warm-up match against Portugal, but the defender will have a week to prove his fitness to head coach Roberto Martinez.
Belgium – who are in World Cup group G with England, Tunisia and Panama – have named Laurent Ciman as stand-by in case Kompany withdraws.
Quoted by the Daily Mail, Martinez said: “Until 24 hours before the Panama game we can still make a replacement. We need to wait a period of seven, eight days with Kompany. Then we will get a good opportunity to make a diagnosis.”
While Belgium will wait on Kompany’s fitness, one player who won’t be travelling to Russia is Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke. Martinez said: “Christian has been the toughest decision. But it is for the balance of the squad. We have two No.9s – Michy Batshuayi and Romelu Lukaku have taken those positions.”
Belgium’s 23-man final World Cup squad:
- Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels
- Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata, Thomas Meunier, Vincent Kompany
- Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco, Nacer Chadli, Leander Dendoncker, Kevin De Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Thorgan Hazard, Adnan Januzaj, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans.
- Forwards: Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku
- Stand-By: Laurent Ciman
Vardy set for England starting chance
The Daily Telegraph reports that Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy will start for England in the World Cup warm-up match against Costa Rica on Thursday.
England boss Gareth Southgate is considering making a number of changes to the team that beat Nigeria 2-1 on Saturday and Vardy is likely to get a spot in attack for the match at Elland Road.
Southgate is also expected to give a debut to Liverpool’s 19-year-old defender Trent Alexander-Arnold.