Former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra hopes his countryman Paul Pogba will not follow David Beckham in being accused of putting his “image before football”.
Pogba returned to Old Trafford after four years last summer for a world record fee of £89m, but has failed to live up to the astronomical price tag so far on the pitch – despite a handful of promising performances.
The 24-year-old’s announcement as a United player once again was accompanied by a giant marketing campaign with the likes of British rapper Stormzy and ‘#POGBACK’ plastered over social media.
He also became the first player to have his own Twitter emoji before United’s game with Liverpool and has become notorious for his ever-changing hairstyles and social media presence.
And with his performances deemed not up to scratch, there are worries that his effort to build a brand off the pitch is exceeding the effort he puts in on the pitch, as Beckham was often criticised for – and which ultimately led to his United exit, as Sir Alex Ferguson felt that no player should become bigger than the club.
While Evra feels Pogba won’t change his style, he did admit he is scared of the Frenchman getting the same criticism Beckham received.
“If he has a bad game, people criticise him for what he does on social media or his haircuts, but he won't change. He thinks for himself and acts for himself,” Evra told FourFourTwo.
“I don't want his image coming before his football, and although I'm not worried that will happen, I'm scared other people hope it does so they can criticise him like they did with David Beckham.”
Evra also revealed that he encouraged Pogba to move back to Old Trafford, despite the pair both playing for Juventus.
He added: “I told him that if he was going to leave then he should join United.
“Juve is a great club and I would have been happy if he'd stayed with us, but I said Man United is a massive opportunity for him.
“Paul is like a brother to me and I want the best for him.”