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PSG: confusing communication, lunar images, dangerous game... Mbappé, a surreal downgrade

“It’s 100% a coach’s decision.

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PSG: confusing communication, lunar images, dangerous game... Mbappé, a surreal downgrade

“It’s 100% a coach’s decision.” Luis Enrique did not keep the suspense going for long. His choice to replace Kylian Mbappé at half-time of Monaco-PSG (0-0), Friday, during the 24th day of Ligue 1, could raise questions. Injury ? Precaution before the C1, Tuesday, in San Sebastian? Sanction? Sporting choice after a first half that was delicate to say the least on a collective level for Paris and on an individual level, for Mbappé?

“Sooner or later, we will have to get used to playing without Kylian and as a coach, my objective is to always seek the best for the team,” indicated the Spanish coach, raised several times on this subject in the conference of press. “I'm not going to get into that game. I'm a professional and I've already answered that question. I'm not going to repeat it again. There is no problem. It's simply handling a situation in the best way possible. I think it’s the best way,” he said, before ironically asking a new question about Mbappé. “It’s a hat-trick, three questions, all three on the same subject. The answer remains the same.” Before appearing in front of journalists, “Lucho” had made the same speech on Amazon: “It is my philosophy to think about what is best for the team and I will continue to do so. I don’t want to argue.”

Remember that the Asturian coach was not his first attempt. After having lined up Kylian Mbappé in every way and for 90 minutes each time he was available since the start of the season, “Lucho” suddenly changed his mind. Mbappé replacing in Nantes (0-2). Mbappé came out in the 66th against Rennes (1-1), while Paris was trailing. And so Mbappé came out at half-time in Monaco. The reason is not very hard to determine: “KM” announced his choice to leave PSG at the end of the season and his contract on February 13 to Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, on the eve of the first leg against Real (2-0). Sanction? Paris Saint-Germain assures us that no.

For now, Luis Enrique is taking everything upon himself. We nevertheless remember that the Parisian management punished the 2018 world champion last summer. Sidelined for the tour in Asia, the Champions Trophy and the first day of L1, before reconciliation, reintegration. Behind, Mbappé did the job. And Paris hoped to extend it. Hope which faded over the weeks, until the famous announcement to the president.

What about the Champions League? Could Luis Enrique once again deprive himself of Kylian Mbappé, Monsieur a goal per match (32 in 32 matches this season) during the game, or even leave him on the bench on Tuesday at Anoeta if he felt like it? “I am sure he is ready to go to C1 without Mbappé. If he has to deprive himself of it, he will deprive himself of it,” explained ex-Parisian Greg Paisley, beIN SPORTS consultant, before Monaco-PSG. “Yes, he could... if the instructions come from above. But on his own, I don't think so, said Fabrice Pancrate, who also passed through Paris. Be careful: if you play smart by not making the player play and things go badly in San Sebastian, things could go wrong... There will always be time to explain something: it's him who is on the bench and who will be judged. The athlete depends on the athlete.” Response Tuesday evening around 7:45 p.m. with the starting line-up…

In the meantime, the choice to treat a player like Mbappé, world champion, captain of the Blues and top scorer in the club's history (244 goals), in this way may raise questions. And how ! Even if he is called upon to leave and turn its back on a club which recruited him in 2017 (€180 million) and bent over backwards to keep him. He is at the end of his contract. He always dreamed of joining Real Madrid. And he has even, a priori, committed to reimbursing or paying around €100 million so that Paris-SG is not harmed financially. “Surprised to see it come out? Yes, sportingly, he did not have a bad match, he could have had some moves to play in the second half, noted Monaco international Youssouf Fofana, on Amazon Prime Video. Afterwards, it’s the coach’s choice, we don’t discuss it.”

It should be noted that, like against Rennes, Mbappé went through the first period like a ghost. Captain in the absence of Marquinhos, he nevertheless played on the left, that is to say in his favorite position, he who has been forced to play in the center for many weeks. If this was a “normal” player, his output would have seemed normal. But “KM” is anything but normal. “I’ve been in football for a long time, I know that everything is important in this kind of club,” smiled “Lucho”.

Occasionally, the former Barça coach can in any case be delighted to see that his choice has paid off. Sluggish and feverish, PSG relied on the talent and class of Gigio Donnarumma, imperial, to keep a clean sheet in the first period. After the break, and especially from the hour mark, the Rouge et Bleu really took the lead. “After the break, the match completely changed. For me, and not just in the last half hour, I think we were better than Monaco, we could have won the match. But we could also have lost him in the first half... In the end, I think the result is fair,” analyzes Luis Enrique.

In the end, Paris will always be Paris, with this astonishing ability to create drama. What about the conditions for failure? See you Tuesday. In the meantime, Mbappé found it interesting to put on a show for Louis II. A few minutes after the start of the second half, when we were still wondering if he was injured, number 7 reappeared in front of the cameras all smiles, in street clothes, sneakers on his feet and phone to his ear, signaling that everything was fine.

All before returning to the bench? Nope. The one to whom Luis Enrique had entrusted the armband for this meeting walked around the field, greeting the supporters and even posing for a selfie with a hostess. He then joined… his mother, Fayza Lamari, to witness the second act of this clash between the third in the Ligue 1 standings and the leader in the stands! Lunar… An attitude which is reminiscent of that which was his this summer, when he multiplied the crowds at the PSG Campus during his sidelining... Mbappé found his partners at the end of the match, on the Monaco lawn, notably exchanging a few words with his great friend Achraf Hakimi. He also greeted former Parisian Thilo Kehrer, starter in the Monegasque defense on Friday. Again, he was smiling. We imagine that he was boiling inside but didn't show it.

It remains to be seen whether he will still have the opportunity to show his talents with PSG. It is clear that the end of his Parisian adventure will not be the most pleasant… Mbappé in the stands, far from the Parisian team? The image of the evening. “If everything goes well, and I am convinced of it, we will have a much better team next season,” said Luis Enrique on the eve of this Monaco-PSG. I have no doubt about that. And this from all points of view, in defense, up front, physically, tactically…” There is still a season to finish. And three titles to play. For the championship, it's almost in the pocket. Paris will challenge Nice in the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France on March 13, and therefore the “Champions” on Tuesday. With Mbappé, it would be easier to dream, right?

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