Paris Saint-Germain’s dependence on Kylian Mbappe keeps growing as he continues to score. This was further illustrated when he scored a hat-trick in the 2021-22 Coupe de France on Monday night. It was against a modest amateur team from Vannes, but the quality of its finish nonetheless stood out and brought its total this season to 18 goals in 25 games. (More football news)
The trip to Lyon on Sunday in Ligue 1 could prove more difficult for Mbappe, given the difficulty of beating Lyon in September. PSG needed a header from Mauro Icardi in the last seconds of the stoppage time of this meeting.
Lyon have dominated the spells and often give PSG a tough game at home. Lyon occupy a modest 13th place, but the form of PSG is uneven. Because although Mauricio Pochettino’s team reached the mid-season break with a 13-point lead, it was much more difficult than it seemed.
PSG have only won two of their last five games and needed a last-minute equalizer against Lens and Lorient, 19th, before the winter break. In 19 matches, PSG scored 12 times after the 80th minute to highlight how individual talent – allied to a solid bench that includes Icardi and Copa America winner Angel Di Maria – has made more of a difference than a awesome teamwork.
With Neymar injured in his ankle and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi only scored once in 11 league games, coach Mauricio Pochettino needs Mbappe at his best.
The star of France’s 2018 World Cup triumph has nine goals and eight assists in the league. He maintains the superb form he has shown throughout last season, when he netted a career-high 42 goals in all competitions.
No wonder PSG are desperate to get Mbappe to sign a new contract and not leave for free at the end of the season. But while Pochettino waits to see what Mbappe decides, he can be happy with what else he’s seen against Vannes: the impressive performances from 18-year-old midfielders Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut.
Simons had good races and stood out for his technical balance and his ability to dribble. He cleverly teamed up with European Championship winner Marco Verratti to score Mbappe’s second goal against Vannes.
Although Simons is Dutch, he has a Spanish-sounding first name. It may not be a coincidence. For as Simons emerged in the youth ranks of Spanish giant Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez reigned in midfield during his era of glory under coach Pep Guardiola and alongside Messi. Simons joined PSG two years ago and appears to be a major talent.
He has more pace and athleticism than the slender Frenchman Michut, who showed poise on the ball and fluid technique. Pochettino gave them both a chance and they grabbed it.
Former PSG coaches have come under fire for neglecting the club’s young talent and letting them go too soon. Topping a long list of players are Bayern Munich star winger Kingsley Coman and Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, both of whom played for France at Euro 2020.
Coman, who scored the game-winning goal for Bayern Munich against PSG in the 2020 Champions League final, went through the club’s academy to join Juventus at the age of 18 after just four appearances .
Even before that, there was something unusual about the way the club recruited as Mbappe – who grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy – traveled to Monaco before being signed by PSG for € 180m ( 204 million dollars).
And the great Frenchman Thierry Henry grew up in the southwestern suburb of Les Ulis, but went to Monaco at the age of 15. World Cup winners Paul Pogba (Manchester United) and N’Golo Kante (Chelsea); Premier League winner Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) and Anthony Martial (United) are all Parisians who have never played for the club.
Nicolas Anelka broke through, but the lightning-quick striker was sold to Premier League Arsenal at the age of 17. Simons and Michut now have a chance to assert their rights.