The importance of Kylian Mbappé to PSG

21 Aug 2020 06:53 am, by YorkshireSquare

As Paris Saint-Germain floundered and flailed in their Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta, you just knew there was only one man to help fire them towards a comeback. The aura surrounding French forward Kylian Mbappé seems to increase with every passing week and every good performance. He is, it’s no exaggeration to say, the most exciting young player on the planet, and at 21 years of age still has his whole career ahead of him.

His impact on the Champions League match against Atalanta, while from the substitutes’ bench, hammered home Mbappé’s importance to his club. The Frenchman was unable to start the match after only recently returning from injury, and throughout the game it felt as if PSG were missing that spark in front of goal which Mbappé provides to such a high standard.

They had already squandered chances before Atalanta’s Mario Pašalić gave the Italians a 1-0 lead, and after that PSG struggled to assert their quality on the match. Neymar in particular, looked like a player who had the keys to unlock the Atalanta defence, but every attack seemed to just fizzle short of producing a clear-cut chance.

Cue the introduction of Mbappé with half an hour to go. The Frenchman replaced Pablo Sarabia, and made an immediate impact, almost equalising after a fine sprint into the penalty area, but his shot was blocked by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello. His telling impact came in the 90th minute, when Mbappé’s well-placed square ball found the feet of former Stoke City forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who took glee in putting the ball in the net and completing PSG’s comeback, after Marquinhos had equalised moments earlier.

While it was a small contribution to the goal, the overall effect Mbappé’s introduction had on the team was far more significant. From the moment he stepped onto the field you could sense a greater belief within the French side, with the mere presence of Mbappé producing a sort of galvanising effect on the whole team unit. Even Neymar seemed to burst into life once again, displaying the kind of quick feet and quick thinking we come to expect from him, in perfect tandem with Mbappé’s speed and run-making ability.

It’s rare for a player so young to have such an inspirational effect on his teammates, but that simply speaks of the sheer talent Mbappé possesses. He is not one of the countless young players who promise so much but deliver little, rather he seems almost like the complete package already – a player who despite his still tender age plays with the swagger and nous of a much older forward.

PSG are now well set to continue their quest for that elusive maiden Champions League title, with the Champions League betting seeming to be in their favour. In this strange end to the European season, it may well prove to be the perfect chance for PSG to shake off the doubts that have hung over the club in recent seasons in the Champions League. With Mbappé fit and firing once again, they have a man capable of firing them towards that longed-for glory.