Serie-A News: ‘We will miss Paul sorely’ – Giroud says France should replace Pogba as World Cup leader

    Olivier Giroud stressed the importance of replacing Paul Pogba’s influence with France ahead of their World Cup defense bid.

    Having won their second World Cup in 2018, France are seen as one of the top contenders to win Qatar, though injuries to Pogba and other key players could hurt their chances.

    Pogba has not appeared in competition since returning to Juventus in July and was ruled out of the competition after undergoing delayed surgery for a knee injury.

    The midfielder who scored four years ago in the World Cup final against Croatia will be joined by N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku, and Giroud believes it’s time for other players to take over.

    “We will miss Paul Pogba, as well as Kante and Kimpembe,” Giroud said on Thursday.

    “Paul has a lot of space in this French team thanks to his personality, but I am convinced that there are other young leaders who can emerge.

    “I, too, will play the role of big brother to the youngest, be available to them and speak up when needed.”

    With 49 goals in 114 caps, Giroud is second in France’s all-time scorer list behind Thierry Henry (51) and is also the country’s fifth most scoring player.

    Giroud arrives at his third World Cup in top form, having scored nine goals for Milan this season, and will put off any decision on his international future until after the tournament.

    “I feel good physically, in my game, in my club and in the French team. This is a period of splendor for me. It’s a gift to feel like this at 36,” Giroud said.

    “I don’t put any restrictions on myself, this may be my last competition, but I don’t want to announce anything. We’ll see after the World Cup. My motivation to stay at the highest level remains the same.”

    France fell short of expectations when they were knocked out of the round of 16 at Euro 2020 last year and Giroud believes it would be wrong to see them as favorites to win Qatar.

    “This is a childhood dream, when you have the opportunity to participate, you want to go to the end. I was lucky that it came true in 2018,” added Giroud.

    “The opportunity to play a third World Cup with this young and talented team gives us great hope. We have many hopes, but also humility, we do not make ourselves the favorites.

    “We know that there will be very big teams at this World Cup. I have a lot of confidence in this group.”

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