France captain Hugo Lloris has described Paul Pogba as a “warrior in his mind,” praising how he gave the “perfect response” to recent criticism by scoring the only goal in France’s 1-0 win away to the Netherlands, and backing the Manchester United midfielder to move onto the next level as a player.
The 23-year-old settled Monday night’s match in the Amsterdam Arena with a brilliant long-range 30th-minute strike that evaded the grasp of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, and generally put in a man-of-the-match response.
That came after a weekend of debate over whether Pogba should be dropped, with French manager Didier Deschamps having said after Friday’s 4-1 win over Bulgaria that “he can and must do better.” Lloris felt Pogba more than did better. Asked whether Pogba had been relaxed in the face of criticism, the goalkeeper said yes, but that there was a resolve behind it.
“Yes, but he’s a warrior in his mind,” Lloris told ESPN FC. “That’s the most important thing. Of course he’s very talented but in football talent is not enough, and in his mind he’s very strong, and very ambitious, so he’s going to improve step by step and he will arrive at the level that he wants.
“Especially after his transfer record, there is a lot of expectation around him. But I think today he showed the perfect response. He helped the team to get the three points, he was decisive today and maybe he will give us confidence for the next few games.”