Paul Pogba spoke from the heart about Lionel Messi after France 4-3 Argentina

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The 2018 World Cup knockout stages began on Saturday with a brilliant contest as France beat Argentina 4-3 in Kazan.

Angel di Maria and Benjamin Pavard scored absolute stunners, but it was Kylian Mbappe who stole the show with two goals and a phenomenal attacking display.

Heading into the clash, several eyes were on two of the biggest stars in Paul Pogba and, of course, Lionel Messi, and the pair endured contrasting emotions.

While Messi provided two assists, what could be his last-ever World Cup came to an end, whereas Pogba produced a strong performance in central midfield.

Following his country's win, Pogba talked to the media and when he was asked to talk about Messi, the 25-year-old's response was genuinely heartwarming.

Pogba shining on world stage

Few people doubt Pogba's technical ability, however one of the criticisms labelled at him is that he fails to contribute in the biggest matches.

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

He's begun to correct that opinion in Russia with some influential displays for France and several perfectly hit long-range passes to speedsters like Mbappe.

Pogba has shown patches of world-class form at Manchester United, and alongside N'Golo Kante, he dominated the midfield battle against Argentina.

What Pogba said about Messi

When asked about trying to limit the undoubted threat of Messi, Pogba spoke from the heart and called the Argentine the world's best player.

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The Man Utd star even opened up about Messi's influence on himself as a person, telling reporters: "We (France) have played against the best player in the world (Messi).

"I've been watching him for ten years to learn from him. He makes me love football. He's always going to be an idol for me."

If you understand any Spanish (yes, Pogba can speak Spanish), check out the interview in the video below:

France had failed to really impress before this victory, and with the likes of Pogba, Griezmann, Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, they are considered strong favourites.

What next for Messi?

While Pogba and Didier Deschamps' men prepare for a quarter-final against Uruguay, Messi now exits the tournament with his international future up in the air.

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The Barcelona icon, who has scored 65 goals in 128 games for Argentina, has seen Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia retire mere hours after the France loss.

What is YOUR opinion on Pogba's comments about Messi after France 4-3 Argentina? Leave YOUR thoughts in the comments box below!

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