‘Make the most of him’ – can PSG afford to leave Mbappe out?

5 March 2024 0 By Total Football News

Kylian Mbappe watches PSG's game against Monaco from the stands with his motherKylian Mbappe watched PSG’s second half against Monaco at the weekend from the stands with his mother after being substituted at half-time

If the events that unfolded in Paris St-Germain’s last game are anything to go by, it is going to be an interesting final few months for Kylian Mbappe at the French club.

Against Monaco last Friday, Mbappe was taken off during the break after a goalless first half for the France striker and his team.

But rather than sit with his team-mates on the PSG bench, Mbappe instead opted to join his mother in the stands.

“Sooner or later we’ll have to get used to playing without Kylian,” PSG boss Luis Enrique said after the game. “I have to take the best decisions for the team.”

European football expert James Horncastle believes Luis Enrique’s decision was made with one eye on the future.

“It feels like PSG were already preparing for this and knew it was a possibility,” he said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Euro Leagues podcast.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see this new PSG in the summer, a PSG that’s supposed to be less ‘bling bling’ and bringing players through and promoting them.

“Will they stay true to that or feel the need to go out and get a superstar – which is how they have acted over the last 12 years?”

But, with trophies still to play for this season, just how wise is it to be preparing for life after Mbappe now and not using him to his maximum capacity?

‘PSG’s best chance of Champions League glory’

Mbappe has scored 26 goals in all competitions for PSG this season, with 21 of them coming in the league to put him top of the scoring charts.

PSG are well on the way to retaining their Ligue 1 title as they sit nine points clear of second-placed Brest.

But while domestic triumphs have come easily to PSG under their Qatar-based owners, Champions League success has so far eluded them.

Given his record in the competition, it would appear foolish for PSG not to get as much as possible from one of the world’s finest players before he leaves.

The 25-year-old has excelled in the Champions League, scoring 44 goals in 68 appearances in the competition – including 38 for PSG.

The Paris club are on course to reach the quarter-finals as they face Real Sociedad on Tuesday holding a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.

“Luis Enrique does have to start planning for next season but it’s a curious policy because Mbappe is their best chance of winning the Champions League,” added Horncastle.

“You need to make the most of him while he is still there.”

Luis Enrique gestures during a PSG matchPSG boss Luis Enrique has not been afraid to start Kylian Mbappe on the bench or take him off at half-time

Mbappe has now been substituted in each of the past two games for PSG. He was replaced after 65 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Rennes after failing to score.

In the game prior to that – a 2-0 win at Nantes – he started on the bench but came on to score PSG’s second in a 2-0 win.

“Had Kylian Mbappe been staying, he would be their best player, but now he is leaving Luis Enrique will be thinking ‘I’m here, but he won’t be, so if I don’t think Mbappe is doing enough in a game I can take him off and no-one will say anything’,” added French football writer Julien Laurens.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague feels former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has always shown a desire for Mbappe to do more than just score goals.

“Mbappe had to make two runs following the full-back [against Rennes] and didn’t – so as soon as it went past 60 minutes, Luis Enrique took him off,” said Balague.

“Luis Enrique, when he first came to PSG, said ‘Mbappe scores goals, but that’s not enough, he needs to work harder’.”

A summer rebuild and a new-look PSG?

Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar walk away during a PSG matchKylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar were signed by PSG’s Qatari owners to bring the Champions League to Paris

Mbappe’s departure this summer would see him follow Neymar and Lionel Messi in leaving PSG in the past 12 months.

That would suggest the French side is moving away from signing superstar names and could instead field a very different-looking side next season.

Laurens says “there are five names on PSG’s shortlist” for the summer, namely AC Milan winger Rafael Leao, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and Lille central defender Leny Yoro.

“Bernardo Silva will be 30 in August, maybe it’s the right time to move, having won everything at Manchester City. When you reach a certain level at Manchester City, after that you feel ‘I’ve done my time here, working with the best manager of all time in Pep [Guardiola]’.

“PSG really like the idea of Bernardo, not just for his creativity but also for his experience. If they get two or three of this five they will be very happy.

“You would still have a core [of French players], and less bling does not mean not spending anymore, but having a stronger team collectively.”