Manchester United may have been warned off the prospective signing of Benjamin Pavard after he was guilty of a poor mistake in France’s World Cup opener.
Les Blues were looking to get their defence of the trophy off to a winning start when they came up against Australia on Tuesday night. Their squad has been affected by injuries to several important players, including Karim Benzema, Christopher Nkunku, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Nevertheless, Didier Deschamps still has a great squad including top stars such as Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Aurelien Tchouameni.
However, it wasn’t a great start to the tournament for the holders. They were left stunned when Australia took the lead in just the ninth minute.
Stoke’s Harry Souttar picked out Matthew Leckie wide on the right flank with a great pass. He took a good touch before crossing to the back post, where Craig Goodwin was poised and ready to finish. The 30-year-old smashed the ball into the roof of the net to send the Australia fans into delirium.
Unfortunately for the Socceroos, they couldn’t hold France back for the remainder of the first half. Adrien Rabiot headed Deschamps’ men level before being joined on the scoresheet by Mbappe and Olivier Giroud. The latter netted twice to equal Thierry Henry’s scoring record for France.
Man Utd scouts may well have been watching the game given their reported interest in Bayern Munich defender Pavard.
The 26-year-old admitted earlier this month that he would love to take part in a ‘new project’, and Man Utd are one of the clubs who could raid Bayern for him. Chelsea like the look of Pavard, too.
Alan Shearer bemoans defending of Man Utd-linked star
But he may need to work on his defending slightly before moving to England. During BBC Sport’s half-time analysis of the France game, Alan Shearer criticised Pavard for not even noticing Goodwin in the build up to Australia’s opener.
“Watch Pavard, he doesn’t even look at him once,” Shearer exclaimed (22/11, at 19:56). “He doesn’t even know he’s there. For a full-back, that’s his responsibility.
“He actually jogs towards the edge of the box. He [Goodwin] runs in behind him. Pavard just doesn’t know where he is.”
Host Gary Lineker then asked the defensive representative in the room, Manchester City icon and current Burnley boss Vincent Kompany, to provide his take on the situation.
“I can only say he can’t have seen him,” Kompany said. “Because nothing he’s done is natural in this movement. He’s just not been scanning.
“The winger gets in at the back post, it’s your first job as a full-back [to watch him].”
Clearly, this is just one error, and Pavard will know he is in the wrong. He has had great success with France and Bayern in the past, so this will not tarnish his reputation too much.
But any potential suitors watching Pavard will have slight concerns about whether he is the right signing for them. He didn’t really attempt to sprint back to get in a good defensive position for the Australia goal.