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1 Nov, 2022 10:10

France suffers fresh World Cup blow

Paul Pogba will be absent as France bid to defend their Russia 2018 crown
France suffers fresh World Cup blow

Paul Pogba’s agent has confirmed that the midfielder will not play for France at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, which gets underway later this month. 

The 29-year-old returned to Italian Serie A club Juventus last summer on a free transfer from Manchester United, and was forced to undergo an operation after injuring his knee on a preseason tour of the United States in July.

Reports were mixed on whether the playmaker would be able to join up with Didier Deschamps’ French team and help them in the defense of the crown they won four years ago in Russia.

On Monday, however, Pogba’s agent Rafaela Pimenta confirmed that her client will not recover in time to make the plane to Qatar after undergoing a medical review.

“Following yesterday and today's medical review in Torino and Pittsburgh, it is extremely painful to inform Paul Pogba will still need recovery time from his surgery,” Pimenta said.

“For this reason, Paul will not be able to join Juventus squad before the World Cup break nor the French national team in Qatar. If wishful thinking would change things, Paul would be playing tomorrow.”

Pogba’s club Juventus also confirmed the development with a statement. 

“Paul Pogba, in light of the recent radiological examinations performed at J|Medical and the consultation carried out in Pittsburgh by Prof. Volker Musahl on the evaluation of his knee, needs to continue his rehabilitation program,” their correspondence read.

Pogba stalled in his recovery by first deciding not to undergo surgery on his meniscus, but then had a change of heart and went ahead with the procedure. 

That one of the stars of Les Bleus’ second World Cup win in Russia will be absent in Qatar comes as another huge blow to Deschamps, who has also lost Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante in recent weeks. 

Pogba scored for France in the 4-2 win against Croatia in the final in Moscow, and his bad news comes amid a scandal in his personal life where he was the alleged victim of a €13 million ($12.9 million) extortion and blackmail plot said to have been devised by his brother Mathias Pogba and their childhood friends.

Mathias Pogba was taken into custody after being arrested for his role in the alleged crime, and has accused Paul Pogba of contracting the services of a west African witch doctor known as a Marabout, in a row which has dragged in the name of France teammate Kylian Mbappe. 

Paul Pogba reportedly admitted to hiring the witch doctor to investigators, but only to keep himself injury free, which has not been successful.

Without Pogba, France start their Group D Qatar 2022 campaign against Australia on November 22.