Luis Enrique on Kylian Mbappe half-time substitution: ‘Sooner or later he is not going to play with us’


Luis Enrique reiterated Paris Saint-Germain have to adjust to playing without Kylian Mbappe after he was replaced at half-time during Friday’s 0-0 draw with Monaco.

The Athletic reported in February Mbappe has told PSG he will depart at the end of the season, and Luis Enrique opted to replace the forward early for the second successive week as his side were held at the Stade Louis II.

The 25-year-old picked up a knock earlier in the first half against Monaco and received treatment before continuing. However, he did not return after the break with Randal Kolo Muani coming on in his place, and emerged from the tunnel in the early stages of the second half with no visible sign of injury.

Asked by Amazon Prime Sport if the substitution was about football or Mbappe’s imminent departure, Luis Enrique replied: “Sooner or later, he is not going to play with us, we need to get used to that.”

He continued: “My job is that way. I have to make decisions all the time. That’s my philosophy, my idea, to think about the best option for my team. Nothing else. Those are my decisions.”

Mbappe had also been substituted after 65 minutes against Rennes on Sunday with PSG trailing 1-0, before his side rescued a point thanks to his replacement Goncalo Ramos’ stoppage time equaliser.

His contract expires this summer, and The Athletic reported earlier this month that he was leaning towards joining Real Madrid but influential members of the 24-year-old’s entourage have been left unconvinced by the Spanish club’s offer, which has been delaying the process.

PSG return to action on Tuesday with the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Sociedad. PSG lead 2-0 following their first-leg victory in Spain.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Kylian Mbappe transfer latest: Destination Madrid? Other offers? What next?

Will Mbappe exit play out as one long distraction for PSG?

There was a smile and a wink to the TV cameras in the tunnel. Then a stroll around the athletics track at the Stade Louis II, complete with a wave to the travelling PSG ultras and even stopping to pose for a selfie. But rather than returning to the substitutes bench with the second half already under way, Mbappe instead headed for the stands, where he found his entourage, and sat next to his mum and agent, Fayza Lamari. He was all smiles. Less than an hour earlier, he had led PSG out as captain.

A half-time substitution, complete with some noteworthy optics, was always going to get people talking. Mbappe’s departure from PSG was hardly going to pass without at least some intrigue.

The key question, though, is whether this will prove to be one long distraction for PSG.

Luis Enrique said last week that the club need to get “used to playing without” Mbappe and he reiterated that post match in Monaco, but the intervening period is still causing a stir. The club nor player are yet to officially confirm their divorce and when asked, the Spaniard refrains from giving his full view of the situation until that changes.

But on the field, he has hardly been subtle. For the second consecutive week, Mbappe has been hauled off early. Against Rennes, he was replaced in the 65th minute with his team trailing 1-0. Against third-place Monaco, he was hauled off at half time. There did not appear to be any injury involved.

This is rare and the statistics speak for themselves. In 158 appearances between 24 November 2020 and 24 February 2024, Mbappe was subbed just once before the 75th minute without injury. Now, it’s happened twice in his last two games.

PSG still have an important Champions League tie on the horizon and keeping Mbappe fresh for that makes sense. Luis Enrique has form too, notably asserting his authority over the untouchable Lionel Messi at Barcelona. The phrase “no player is bigger than the club”, the motif of last year’s summer of change at PSG, also lingers in the background.

PSG’s relationship with Mbappe has been full of ups and downs too so of course it feels inevitable that there would be some eyebrow raising before the divorce. The concern though will be whether this all impacts PSG’s on-field targets for the season. Time will tell about whether this all continues. But whatever happens, it will be scrutinised intensively in France, at least until they finally part ways.

(Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images)





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top