The reasons for his silence since June: “I announced from my first speech that I would not do all the press conferences and that I am not Antoine Griezmann's hierarchical superior. I did the first three press conferences, he did the next three. I also said that we would leave the door to new leaders. Mike Maignan came, Aurélien Tchouaméni too. The coach told me to come back and I do what he tells me. (…) It is a desire to share leadership. I never hid, I always assumed. I sent my letter (to PSG) and I appeared in front of the media a week later and I got nine questions out of 11 about PSG, one about the Olympics and one about Gibraltar because I asked for it ...I'm not afraid to come here. The France team is not my team. It does not belong to anyone, we are all at its service, there are several leaders, I am one of them and that is why I am here today.
The 2024 Olympics: “I always wanted to do the Olympics but it’s not me who decides, it’s my employer. It would be a pleasure to play them but my employer will have the last word. If my employer doesn't want me to do them, I won't do them. This is not a problem. But yes, I would like to do them. (…) I don’t think it will be a very long reflection. If it's yes, it's yes. If it's no, it's no. I want to play them. I think people want me to do them. It will get back to normal, but we are not safe from a bad surprise.”
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His role at PSG and in the selection: “I think I am a different player because they are different teams, with different playing philosophies. At PSG, we have a coach (Luis Enrique) who has a clear desire to play in the opposing camp, to always have the ball, to always think of us while considering that it is up to the opponent to adapt. As a French team, we adapt to our opponents. As a result, the matches are not necessarily the same in the selection… even if we often win. That's what makes me a different player but I like it, it allows me to broaden my palette and it doesn't affect my performance because I score with both teams. But I can still improve and broaden my palette, that's the goal. The differences ? Didier Deschamps gives me total freedom on the left lane. With Luis Enrique, it's something else, there are a lot more instructions, and it's also good because it allows you to have a structure. For example, in the last match (3-0 victory in Reims), I started as a left winger, he asked me to stick the line, in the second period he asked me to be much more inside because we played with a false number 9, exploiting the spaces in the back and being a more central player. I have this particularity of adapting to all these patterns. And I have every interest in listening to the two great coaches I have today, they will help me progress and become even better than I am.”
His future at PSG: “This is not the news for the France team. I came here as captain of the Blues. I would like to stay there for the next 10 days... If you want to ask me this question and it is important to you, you have to come to the PSG Campus (the training center of the capital club, Editor's note) and come and ask me… if I am called to come to a press conference.”
Luis Enrique's criticism: “You have to ask him why this timing, but I took it very well. He's a great coach. He has a lot to bring me, to teach me. I'm at a point in my career where I want to broaden my palette, to be a complete player. From the first day we met, when I came back from the loft, I told him that he would have no problem with me, that all I wanted was to play football, improve and win titles. We agreed on that. I have always worked well with my coaches, the coach Didier Deschamps, Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel, coaches who spoke to me very badly, but that did not prevent me from having a very good performance, from playing very well and to have very good relationships with them. I am very demanding of myself and I am very happy if I find it with my trainer because I know that it will take me very high. I don’t need the coach to say every day that I’m the best in the world to play well.”
Impervious to pressure… despite doubts about his future: “You phrase the question differently but it’s the same as your colleague (smile). I said that it is the news of the France team which takes precedence. It's not something that weighs on me. On the pitch, I don't think about that, just playing, making a difference, winning titles. I've always done it like that. I've always had a lot to put up with outside. That didn't stop me from achieving what I achieved. When I'm on the field I don't come in with external things. I think about my football. I attacked the season with the desire to only think about my football and not about external things, to let external things pollute my football. That’s the most important thing for me, playing.”
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Warren Zaire-Emery: “He’s fascinating! He is already very mature. He plays with a lot of personality. He is a modern midfielder who is not afraid to take the ball, to advance with the ball and who gains meters for his team. It also makes an impact. Everything is going very well for him. For us, the objective is to support it. I don't have any advice to give him. When you manage to be a starter at 17 years old at PSG... Even if he is going to make mistakes, he will learn very quickly and on his own. With his coaches, he has everything to progress. It’s a pleasure to have this refresher on the team. He is 17, the age of my little brother (laughs). It's crazy ! I'm not old, but it gets a little old to see him coming in, doing his homework, it's nonsense. He plays three times a week… He’s fascinating. All we have to do is support him and protect him off the field, that's our mission. On the pitch, he has to be himself.”
The Golden Ball: “If I’m afraid it will slip away from me? He's already escaped me! What’s next? No… I'm not afraid, I don't have a problem. The ranking is what it is. Lionel Messi deserves it. When Messi wins the World Cup, Messi must win the Ballon d'Or, that's how it works. He is one of the best players in the world, if not the best. On the evening of December 18, I knew he had won the World Cup and the Golden Ball. And everyone knew it. Now, Erling Haaland had a great season, me too, but next to a World Cup won by Leo Messi, that doesn't weigh much..."
His favorite profile for the Blues center forward: “It’s not a question for me (laughs). The three (Giroud, Thuram, Kolo Muani) are strong, the three score goals, they play for Milan, Inter and PSG. We are lucky to have these three players, who also have different profiles. Let the best play and we will adapt.”
Randal Kolo Muani and Ousmane Dembélé, his club and national teammates: “Having difficulties? They have just arrived at a new club, that's normal. Ousmane climbs back up the slope. He has had good matches, these last matches are more than satisfactory. Randal is adapting slowly but surely. Afterwards, in a club like PSG, there is a requirement, you always have to do more. It's never enough. This is why PSG is PSG. It’s a club that has demands. I try to talk with them. It's important that the human feels good so that the athlete succeeds, that was my role, even if I wasn't there when they arrived, I was coming out of a somewhat delicate situation. I tried to help them as best as I could, to integrate them, because once they are fully integrated humanly, things will work out sportingly. They have qualities. If the club bought them, they are good. Everything will move forward in the best of all possible worlds soon.”
Marcus Thuram: “I’ve known him for around ten years, we went to Clairefontaine together. Its repositioning in the axis? I've been telling him for years that he would end up as a center forward. He doesn't listen to me! In Mönchengladbach, when he was crossing the line, I told him that he would end up in the center because he has all the qualities to be a very good center forward. His start to the season at Inter Milan proves it. I'm happy for him. We talk a lot, we exchange almost every day. I have a lot of affection for him. His start to the season at Inter proves that Inter made the right choice and him to understand that it is his best position.