Marcel Desailly has urged Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kanté to rediscover top form at club level in a bid to aid France's World Cup hopes. Pogba has continued to lack consistency at Manchester United after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in August 2016, and has even found himself left out of the starting XI by manager José Mourinho in recent weeks.
Kanté, meanwhile, has not been at his best for Chelsea after two stellar seasons that saw him win the Premier League title with Leicester City and then the Blues. Pogba offered a reminder of what he is capable of with an assist and a goal in France's 3-1 friendly win over Russia in St Petersburg on Tuesday. And Desailly, a World Cup and European Championship winner with Les Bleus, knows how important it is for the pair to be in peak condition in Russia.
"That's an issue, [that] they couldn't [produce] a great season for their respective clubs," the 49-year-old, speaking courtesy of Hublot, told Omnisport. "We cannot say that they voluntarily didn't give their all, thinking of the World Cup. Everything will be determined by the way they prepare ahead of the World Cup - physically and mentally, in order to regain momentum. They have nothing more to prove as they are both world-class experienced players, but they need to bring a positive momentum to the team."
Different finalists in the Champions League
While the World Cup is beginning to loom large on the horizon, attention now turns to the conclusion of the season at club level, with Desailly's former France team-mate Zinedine Zidane seeking to guide Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League crown.
"I'm happy that he feels comfortable…he knew a tough time acknowledging that the league [title race] was lost for them," Desailly said of the coach. "They struggled a little but he [Zidane] was able to reverse the current trend in order to beat Paris Saint-Germain with a great tactical play," he added, referring to the Champions League round-of-16 tie. He chose younger players, more focused and well-disciplined regarding the tactical aspect of the game."
Despite his affection for Zidane, Desailly is hoping for a final between Pep Guardiola's Premier League-leading Manchester City and the Bayern Munich side of Jupp Heynckes, who won the competition with Die Roten in 2012-13.
"We want to see some new faces," he said. "We love Real Madrid because of Zidane but we would also love a great final [featuring Manchester] City versus Bayern. It would be new and rewards the clubs who were committed and kept their philosophy like Bayern."