Mbappe needs to end Champions League drought if he wants to stay on course for massive 2021, at PSG or elsewhere


Ask Kylian Mbappe and he will tell you. He knows all his statistics: how many goals he scored, when he scored them, how and where they arrived. He can remember everything. It also counts the goals he scores in training. He is extremely attentive to detail when it comes to his figures, ratios and performance. He knows he has scored six goals in five Ligue 1 games already this season.

Yet all this knowledge can also be negative. For example, Mbappe is well aware of his Champions League drought. It’s been six games since he scored in the best club competition in world football – that’s a long time for a player like him.

There are currently explanations for the French international’s difficulties. He was average, like everyone else in Paris Saint-Germain, in the first leg of the round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund, but provided vital assistance to Neymar in the 2-1 defeat. He was ill in the return and only entered the field in the second half, when PSG was already 2-0 up and headed for the quarter-finals. He was not 100% fit for the quarter-finals due to the ankle injury he sustained in the Coupe de France final. Decisive against Atalanta after entering the last 30 minutes, but not against RB Leipzig in the semi-finals or Bayern Munich in the final. That said, he had possibilities in both games, but he didn’t take advantage of them.

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Then there was the Manchester United game last week. Mbappe’s performance that night in the opening of PSG’s group stage sparked a new debate over his contributions. He didn’t run enough against United: nearly two kilometers shorter than Marcus Rashford and with half the high intensity sprints. He has lost the ball 13 times, completed only 81% of his passes and 50% of his dribbles, and did not create enough or threaten enough in David De Gea’s box despite starting as the sole center forward.

His stats: a created chance, a key pass and two shots on goal. That’s all.

PSG was counting on him and he didn’t give results.

Despite all of Mbappe’s talent and trophies, despite all of his goals and records, some unexplained question marks remain. Some former players question his positioning, while others mention lack of effort; or is his individualistic side the problem?

Mbappe listens to the criticisms, even acknowledging them in an interview on the club’s website this week. “There are games where I haven’t been good but I keep improving,” he said. “I know that not everything is perfect, but I have shown that I am capable of playing for my teammates while maintaining the desire to score because that too can win games.”

Then there is the Neymar influence. They get along so well that it sometimes seems like they just want to play together. Mbappe, like the Brazilian international, tried too hard to win the game alone against United, and from this disappointment comes a new criticism of coach Thomas Tuchel. If PSG were better collectively, Mbappe and Neymar would certainly be less individualistic. If they had movement around them and many options, they probably wouldn’t struggle to find the solution on their own. Taking on an entire opponent defense alone is difficult, even when you are as talented as Mbappe.

He’s a phenomenon, the kind of player who shows up once in a generation. But he’s also 21, and he’s still going from being a broad player – as he has been for most of his career – to a center forward like Thierry Henry. It is not easy, especially when physically it is not at its best.

“The start of the new season was tough physically, but also mentally because there was no preseason,” he told the PSG website. “We came back from the Champions League final at the end of August, then we went straight to the national team, some players had done so [positive tests for] COVID-19. It was strange. Mentally, it’s hard to get over it.

“In my mind – and there are some who think so – this is not a new season. It is the continuity of last season. For me, we are in the 60th game of the season, not the ninth. It is a marathon that continues, not it’s easy, usually you play the Champions League final, you win or lose, but then you have a break, for us we lost the final and we had to play again right away. “

There is also the proverbial elephant in the room, one that could impact Mbappe’s performance: his future. His Paris contract expires in the summer of 2022 and there is currently no progress in discussions to extend it. A new agreement is the priority for PSG and sporting director Leonardo, but it is not the priority for Mbappe. The club will push and may induce him to sign a new deal, otherwise nothing could happen and he will get closer to exiting as time goes on. Sources told ESPN that the two camps met last week, but nothing concrete came of it. There is still time for him to commit, but he wants assurances that PSG will build a great team for years to come if he wants to stay.

But if he were to leave, where would he go?

Real Madrid are his absolute dream, and the fact that they didn’t spend any money and signed no one in the summer suggests that The whites they are preparing a great offer for him.

Liverpool are the other club he would like to join. He is a huge fan of Jurgen Klopp’s team and loves club ethics. Can they afford it? This is the big question. It will cost around 200 million euros, with wages between 25 and 30 million euros (gross) per year, an increase in its annual salary of 21 million euros in the French capital. By next summer, he may have won the European Championships with France, the Champions League with PSG and scored countless other goals along the way, meaning his value – and his demands – could grow even more.

Before thinking about all this, however, he must focus on the present and end the drought of his Champions League goals. Istanbul Basaksehir will be his next opportunity to lay the groundwork for what could be a summer of fireworks in 2021.


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