PSG: Luis Enrique, a coach who does not take gloves with Kylian Mbappé


By: Manu Tournoux

“I have a very good relationship with Kylian. Since day one, the players have known that I am demanding. Him first, like everyone else. But a fortiori, a player of his level who each time wants to improve his game, have good matches, play every minute, who wants to score goals, and who wants to win titles. I want him to never be satisfied. My job as a coach is to be demanding. I like them to practice well, play well and be competitive. There is no room for rest and relaxation. We ask it of everyone and especially of important players like Kylian”. Here is what Luis Enrique recently said about his star Kylian Mbappé. A clear way to mark your territory in the French capital and display your standards.

A relationship based on performance!

New coach of Paris Saint-Germain, current leader of Ligue 1 and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, the 53-year-old Spaniard stands out from his predecessors in many respects. From his playing philosophy to his sometimes confusing way of communicating with the press, the Parisian technician seems impervious to pressure and various criticisms… With this in mind, the former La Roja coach, never completely satisfied, also shows good form. of intransigence with his group. Ambitious, sure of his strengths and ready to make this team one of the greatest in Europe, the ex-Barça coach spares no one. Not even Kylian Mbappé, author of 18 goals and 2 assists in 20 matches in all competitions since the start of the season.

If the Bondynois remains a player apart, Luis Enrique does not display, in this respect, any preferential treatment. Symbol of this firm positioning? The Spaniard’s media exit a few minutes after PSG’s victory (3-0) on the pitch at Stade de Reims last November, where the Parisian number 7 scored a hat-trick. At the microphone of Prime Video and to everyone’s surprise – where many coaches would certainly have chosen to adore the French international – the Ile-de-France technician publicly “reframed” his player. “I’m not very happy with Kylian today. On the goals, obviously, I have no complaints. But I think he can help the team more, in another register. I’m going to talk to him face to face first, I’m not going to do it in the media. It’s not public. We think he’s one of the best players in the world, no doubt about it. But we would like him to do even more things”.

Daring comments which then did not fail to provoke a reaction, without leading to a harsh reaction from the Mbappé clan, at least publicly. With his eyes fixed on the club’s objectives and determined to stack records, the former Monegasque showed no resentment towards his coach, preferring to continue on the pitch with a goal and an assist a few days later against his former club (5-2 against ASM, 13th day of L1). Yes, but now, while the two men have always displayed a certain complicity, a new episode occurred on Wednesday evening, a few minutes after the draw (1-1) conceded by PSG on the pitch of Borussia Dortmund. Enough to re-examine this relationship. The opportunity, also, to confirm the firm and assumed position of Luis Enrique. Frustrated by his team’s choice to favor a draw and therefore let first place slip away, KM7 did not fail to display his bitterness.

A fracture to fear?

After a quick check with his coach and some applause to the Parisian supporters present at Signal Iduna Park, the 2018 world champion then hurried to take a shower before coming to sit, first, on the bus. Head down and a bad-day expression as he passed the crowd of journalists waiting for the first reactions in the mixed zone, the 24-year-old Habs couldn’t digest it. What to scare Luis Enrique? Failed again. “It’s normal for the players to be frustrated, we had 5 chances to score, 5 chances! We would be a bit stupid to concede a goal in the 85th minute. When a player is frustrated, it is my role to manage this risk-taking, this tension. Our goal was to finish first, but finishing second in this difficult group is a success. I have no doubt that in February we will be much stronger”assumed the former coach of the Blaugranas, visibly little affected by the sulks of his protégé.

An assumed choice but a risky game on the part of the Parisian coach. In this context, A.S. revealed, moreover, that after the meeting in Dortmund, Mbappé’s bitterness had not subsided, ensuring that a “icy exchange” had also taken place between the two protagonists. The Iberian media added, moreover, that the Parisian star had not failed to show his dissatisfaction by looking at his coach. To the point of damaging the relationship, hitherto considered good? Nothing is less sure. Recently, several sources assured that the two Parisians, speaking in Spanish, maintained a healthy professional and human relationship. The Team specified, in this respect, that Kylian Mbappé, central relay for his coach in the locker room, had also appreciated the media outing of Luis Enrique, who hoped that an agreement between the player and the club would be found, when he was left out of the Parisian group because of his refusal to extend. If the sporting results calm down, today, the beginnings of a storm between Luis Enrique and Kylian Mbappé, the demands and the XXL ambitions of the latter two could, despite everything, lead to a real divide, particularly in the event of disillusionment with the European scene…

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