‘We consider what is best for the team’ – Luis Enrique explains benching Ousmane Dembélé

The question of whether Kylian Mbappé (25) starts a game or not is the subject of headlines in France, and it’s a question that overshadows almost all else at Paris Saint-Germain. Even Ousmane Dembélé (26) who was brought in ostensibly as a replacement for Neymar (32) for a not insignificant sum is forgotten.

Lost in the Mbappé conversations has been the fact that Dembélé has only started in two of PSG’s last five fixtures, while Mbappé has started in three. In part, this is because the optics around these decisions feel notably different. 

Mbappé being benched or substituted feels as if it has some greater political motive hidden barely beneath the surface, while in contrast, the decision behind Dembélé looks sporting. 


Luis Enrique clarifies decision on Dembélé’s playing time 

The winger has in the past suffered from severe injury problems during his time at Barcelona. A fact that Luis Enrique has alluded to when speaking ahead of the Coupe de France quarter-final against OGC Nice. “We study every little detail for all players individually. All matches are important. Matches like tomorrow or in the Champions League are of a high level, which requires us to present our strongest lineup.

Dembélé has no problem, he was available [against Stade de Reims]. We think that the best training is playing,” Luis Enrique continued, “But we have to control playing time, especially for explosive players like Dembélé and Mbappé.” 

The manager finished by stating, “We consider what is best for the team, and that means playing more or less minutes depending on the circumstances.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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