Didier Drogba does not believe Jose Mourinho has lost faith in Paul Pogba and insists the Manchester United boss is only critical of players he likes.
Pogba's future has come under scrutiny in the last few weeks, with the France international starting just four of United's last 11 matches due to a combination of illness, injury and poor form.
France boss Didier Deschamps has admitted the midfielder "cannot be happy" with his situation at Old Trafford, with youngster Scott McTominay having been preferred by Mourinho in recent matches.
Will France give Pogba special treatment due to his 'complicated' position at Man Utd? pic.twitter.com/pbmMwtNXdj— Goal (@goal) March 23, 2018
But Drogba, who won three Premier League titles under the Portuguese manager during his glittering Chelsea career, does not think the relationship with Pogba is beyond repair.
"It was heated between us more than once, but Jose will never attack people he doesn't like," Drogba, described by Mourinho as "a great friend...who will be part of my life forever" in 2013, told Telefoot.
"He likes Paul a lot. It's why he's given him a lot of responsibility."
Pogba was left out of the starting line-up for France's friendly defeat to Colombia on Friday, in which they surrendered a 2-0 lead at Stade de France to lose 3-2.
Deschamps says he has spoken at length with the former Juventus star and believes part of the problem stems from a lack of mental and physical sharpness.
"I had a long exchange with him to understand," he said. "He's having a difficult period in Manchester, which is also linked to physical problems, the head as well... It's a bit of both."
The uncertainty around Pogba underlines what has been a tricky time for the player since returning to United in 2016 for a then-record transfer fee of £89.3million.
The 25-year-old has struggled to find form consistently, with many suggesting he is ill-suited to Mourinho's preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up, while injuries have also hampered his performances.
However, his agent, Mino Raiola, remains convinced Pogba was a "cheap" signing who should have cost twice as much.
"Manchester United paid 100million but I think they should have paid 200," he told Dutch magazine Quote.
"Pogba was a cheap player. He had a clause in his contract that said he alone – not Juventus – was allowed to decide where he was going to play in the following season."