The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been full of upsets. UBS predicted that Germany would win, while Goldman Sachs predicted Brazil would take home the trophy. However, on Sunday, it's France and Croatia that will face off in the final.
With soccer superstars like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar out of the competition, only one of the eight highest-paid soccer players in the world remains — French midfielder Paul Pogba.
According to to Forbes' ranking of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, the 25-year-old Manchester United star earned a salary of $25 million in 2017, plus an additional $4.5 million in endorsements, bringing his total earnings for the year to $29.5 million.
The result? Sky-high expectations.
Pogba, nicknamed "La Pioche" ("the pickax"), has yet to score a goal in this World Cup, but has been praised for his positive performances. In the past, commentators have suggested that Pogba is being overpaid by Manchester United.
"Everyone expects a lot from Paul: great feats of technique and goals from distance," French teammate Antoine Griezmann tells FIFA. "People want him to lift the crowd to their feet." Griezmann is reportedly being offered a new salary somewhere between and €20 million (about $23.3 million) and €23 million (nearly $26.8 million) a year to stay at Atletico Madrid, but did not make Forbes' list in 2018.
Pogba has high expectations for himself and his squad, and says he uses the pressure to make himself a better player and teammate.
"I think I'm judged differently, but it's good. It makes me improve as well, it is a challenge for me, and I take it in a good way. I don't take it in a bad way," he tells Sky Sports. "I'll try to score and make assists and that's it. I still want to do my job in midfield. If I can help the team in attack and defense and make a difference, I will do it. If I can score and assist, it is even better."
For the World Cup Final, Pogba's goal is more singular — bringing the trophy back to France. In a press conference he told reporters, "We want really want to get it, to give everything, to bring this trophy back home."
If he achieves this goal, his earnings for 2018 will likely increase. The team that wins the World Cup earns $38 million.
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