Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes the media is jealous of France midfielder Paul Pogba and is the reason for the continued criticism of the Manchester United star.
Pogba grabbed headlines throughout the 2017-18 season, notably for his off-pitch antics, as he endured an inconsistent second half to the campaign.
Indeed, several tabloid outlets in the United Kingdom chose to focus on his hairstyles, his fashion choices and his lavish spending, given that he sometimes flattered to deceive at Old Trafford.
Now in Russia at the World Cup with France, Pogba made a positive contribution in his side's opening game against Australia as he scored a deflected, looping winner to give his side all three points.
Ibrahimovic believes that the negative media coverage comes from a point of jealousy, and has sympathised with his 25-year-old former team-mate.
"Pogba is controversial, the media always talks about him and I think this is out of jealousy," Ibrahimovic told BeIN Sports.
"He has a big salary and always plays at the big matches and tournaments."
Indeed, Ibrahimovic played alongside Pogba at Old Trafford during his time at United, and believes that the midfielder is the finest in world football.
"He is the best midfielder in the world and because of that he has a lot of haters," he added.
Pogba, himself, was happy with his performance against Australia, and believes it gives France a solid foundation upon which to build.
"It's a World Cup match. There are no easy games," he said. "Australia have done very well. It will be like that all the way through the World Cup.
“It was very important to win the first game. It was difficult. We did not give up.
“On my goal, I was helped a lot by the defender. To score with your ears, nose, or foot - as long as it goes in, it's all good.”