Kylian Mbappé had a busy Sunday. Before attending a gala at Disneyland Paris and Neymar Jr.’s 28th birthday bash, the Frenchman sat down with Paris Saint-Germain manager, Thomas Tuchel, and sporting director, Leonardo, to discuss the incident everyone is talking about.
Of course, that incident is that I’m referring to occurred on Saturday in the 68th minute with Paris Saint-Germain up 5-0 over Montpellier HSC at the Parc des Princes.
In the second half of a match where the outcome was already decided, Tuchel made the decision to take Mbappé off and replace him with Mauro Icardi. The two met on the touchline and that’s where things got ugly.
PSG manager Tuchel substituted Mbappe earlier today and he was absolutely fuming with the decision.
This isn't good at all, just a reminder that Mbappe still hasn't signed a new contract with PSG. 👀 pic.twitter.com/djRngUpyCD
— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) February 1, 2020
Mbappé tried to force his way past Tuchel as the manager tried to explain his decision to the young Frenchman. Afterward, Mbappé marched to his seat on the bench and sulked for the remainder of the match.
According to a report from Le Parisien, Mbappé met with his manager and Leonardo at the Camp des Loges and PSG’s sporting director is expected to make a public comment about how the situation will be handled soon.
Tension obviously exists between Tuchel and Mbappé and it goes beyond Saturday. The 21-year-old pulled the same stunt last December in a match against Montpellier when he was taken off in the 90th minute. You can kind of understand his frustration then but still, it’s not a good look for a player to treat his manager like that.
The French publication indicates that one potential reason for the tension is that while Mbappé is propped up by the club as a special talent and face of the team, on the pitch, he is treated just like any other player.
Another reason the two may be at odds is that Tuchel has often praised certain players, like Angel Di Maria, while never fully committing to Mbappé. As Le Parisien reports, in September of 2018, Tuchel said that “you have to be careful that he keeps his feet on the ground” when talking about Mbappé. Quite a difference in messaging from the German tactician.
Mbappé is tied with Icardi for the PSG player replaced most often in Ligue 1, but on average, he is take off earlier in the match than the Argentine (73rd minute compared to 76th). Di Maria has been taken off four times at an average of the 83rd minute. This season, Neymar has only been replaced once in Ligue 1. Mbappé may have a point that he is unfairly treated but Tuchel has good reason to do so.
Think about it from Tuchel’s point of view. If Di Maria goes down with an injury, supporters will be upset but with the emergence of Pablo Sarabia, his place in the 4-4-2 formation can be replaced. Mbappé is irreplaceable and if he suffers a season-ending injury in a 5-0 win over Montpellier, it’s Tuchel who will have to face questions from the media about why he was in the game.
Now, what I don’t get is why Neymar isn’t subjected to the same treatment as Mbappé as he is just as irreplaceable and more injury-prone. Perhaps it’s because of Neymar’s stature as a global icon and thus, a lightning rod for controversy, but Mbappé is approaching that level now as Tuchel is finding out.
The good news is that Le Parisien reports that the incident shouldn’t impact whether Mbappé signs the contract extension that has been offered to him or not. However, the question has to be asked. If Mbappé is to commit long-term to PSG, will he demand a new manager in exchange?
Want more PSG? Visit the PSG Talk Podcast Network page and subscribe to PSG Talking, The 1970, and 24th & Parc.