While Kylian Mbappe’s goal output might still be high this season in the Ligue 1, the France World Cup winner has struggled for form in the Champions League.
It is of little wonder that Paris St-Germain has prioritized Kylian Mbappe’s new contract over that of Neymar Jr. Although the World Cup winner may not match the Brazilian in terms of his raw goal-producing output, in terms of sheer reliability, there is no contest between the two team-mates.
The two signed in the 2017 summer but since that time, Mbappe has played an astonishing 41 times more than his colleague. He stands just a single goal short of 100 for the club, having played 135 matches.
However, could Mbappe’s relentless availability and desire to play be a contributing factor to his downturn in form?
It has been close to a year since the 21-year-old Mbappe scored in the Champions League. His last goal in the European competition was on 11th December 2019 in a 5-0 romp against Galatasaray. Since then, five assists have followed although more is expected of the superstar.
For years now, Mbappe has been playing games at a relentless pace. Since making his senior debut five years ago to the day, he has already played 234 matched for country and club.
Additionally, with the exception of the coronavirus stoppage, he has barely has a single break since moving to PSG.
“The comeback has been complicated especially physically because we reached the Champions League final and we hardly had any preparation. Many players tested positive for coronavirus and some went with their international teams”. Said Mbappe.
“For me, the feeling is that I’m in the 60th game of the season and not in the ninth. We’ve had a marathon of games. Generally, when you get to a Champions League final, you have a holiday. But we got to the final and we didn’t have time to rest”.
Indeed, coach Tuchel has resorted to pulling Mbappe out of domestic games early in a bid to preserve him. He has only played the full 90 minutes in Ligue 1 three times this season and yet he is the player PSG lean on more than any other, with Neymar included.
If PSG’s long-term aim is to retain the superstar, then, their short-term goal must be to get him back to his full capacity. A lack of depth, an excess of fixtures, and an inability to guarantee his future, may mean that it is some months before we see Mbappe at his absolute best and on a consistent basis once again.