Ligue 1 Review | Is Luis Enrique’s management of Kylian Mbappé costing PSG?

The biggest talking point from Round 24 of Ligue 1 was the half-time substitution of Kylian Mbappé (25) in PSG’s goalless draw against Monaco on Friday evening. Undoubtedly, the decision at the break to substitute the France captain came as a shock but it is now becoming an apparent theme in Luis Enrique’s management of the player since he announced his intentions to leave the club at the end of the season. 

Mbappé looks destined to join Real Madrid in the summer transfer window and the PSG manager has made it clear that he is planning for the future without the former Monaco attacker. With the forward’s substitution against Monaco not injury-related, the former Barcelona boss has made it clear he wants to begin preparations for the post-Mbappé era at Les Parisiens. Speaking after the Monaco match, Luis Enrique said, “It was 100% the coach’s decision. Sooner or later we will have to get used to playing without Kylian Mbappe. It is my decision and one that I take with the objective of doing the best for the team.” 

Understandably, Luis Enrique is well within his rights to plan for life at PSG without Mbappé, but could the decision prove costly for PSG in the short-term with ambitions of European and domestic glory still on the line? 

A worrying trend

In the last 4 Ligue 1 matches, Mbappé has either been substituted before the final whistle or not started the match with Luis Enrique limiting the minutes of the France international. This is not the first time this has happened this season. The 25-year-old was excluded from PSG training in preseason and this carried into the beginning of the Ligue 1 season. Mbappé was not involved against Lorient and came on as a substitute in Paris’ second match against Toulouse to secure a point. With the match against Les Merlus goalless, PSG were winless in their first two matches. A similar trend is now repeating itself with Luis Enrique limiting the forward’s involvement. 

There have been seven matches in Ligue 1 this season where the France captain has either been subbed off before the final whistle, not started the match or even been involved at all. In these 7 matches, Les Parisiens have only won three and have drawn the other four. As a result, when Mbappé is not involved throughout for PSG, Luis Enrique’s team look disrupted and goal-shy. This equates to a 42% win percentage when the forward is not fully involved. In comparison, when Mbappé starts and plays the full 90 minutes, PSG win 82% of their matches – a damning statistic in the short-term and long-term as they prepare for life without the prolific attacker. 

A major over-reliance

The fact that Mbappé is PSG’s most prolific and influential attacker is not news to anyone, considering his status as one of the best players in the world. However, the actual influence he has on PSG could be worrying for fans of the Ligue 1 champions, if Luis Enrique continues to limit his involvement. 

Mbappé is Ligue 1’s outstanding goalscorer – with 21 strikes in 22 games, he dramatically leads the way in that metric. This trend continues within the PSG ranks. With 25 goal involvements thus far this season, the France international forward has been responsible for scoring or creating 46% of all the goals PSG have scored this season. More worryingly for Luis Enrique, the next most-influential player for PSG has had a hand in only one third of the amount of goals created Mbappé – Randal Kolo-Muani (25) with 8 goal involvements in Ligue 1. 

Match-winning Mbappé

Unsurprisingly, Mbappé is the man that fans and his teammates look to when in a difficult position in a match, due to his alien-like qualities and skill. The 25-year-old clearly thrives on this mantra and holds the pressure of being a prolific matchwinner with great pride. This is shown in the sheer amount of points he has won for PSG this season.  Through either decisive goals or assists, Mbappé has been the decisive factor in gaining 29 points for Les Parisiens in Ligue 1 this season – a whopping 52% of their points tally at the time of writing. 

Brest approaching and European success on the line 

Whilst it may seem like a big gap, PSG are only 9 points clear of Brest in Ligue 1. Les Pirates are currently on an impressive run of form and with Les Parisiens stuttering in their last two matches, they have been able to cut the deficit at the top of Ligue 1. With the PSG forward’s contributions limited in these two matches, they have subsequently dropped points and allowed their potential title rivals to cut the gap. 

In addition, PSG are looking to break their duck in Europe and claim their first illusive Champions League crown. With one of the best player’s in the world at your disposal, it would make sense that this is perhaps PSG’s best chance to win the trophy in recent years. Mbappé has shown his influence in UEFA’s premier competition this season with 4 goals in 7 matches. 

With a potentially history-defining season on the cards for Les Parisiens, the same question remains around Luis Enrique’s management of Kylian Mbappé. Can the Spaniard afford to prioritise long-term planning over the prospect of short-term supremacy when it comes to his management of one of the best players in the world?

GFFN | Liam Wraith

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