Kylian Mbappe must rise above the fouls that come with being a star
Last weekend, Kylian Mbappe learned a lot about life and about football; we learned a lot about him too.
The goal he scored at Nîmes was world class, and there was nothing new about that. However, the red card he received for reacting aggressively to a bad tackle was very unusual. The French prodigy, still only 19 years old, lost his head for a couple of seconds like he's never done before.
Mbappe is a very mature young man for his age, always respectful and measured both on and off the pitch. His over-the-top and angry attitude on Saturday, in the last seconds of a game where PSG were leading 4-2, was very unlike him, especially after the great performance he had in the game. It taught us that despite all his amazing talent, his supportive entourage, his feet on the ground and his intelligence, he is still only a teenager and sometimes it shows.
"He got scared to get injured but he will have to deal with these situations," said Didier Deschamps of the incident.
It is the second red card of Mbappe's young career. Last season, he stamped on Ismaila Sarr's ankle against Rennes and was sent off, also due to frustration during a tough game. Saturday's dismissal was due to fear and a bit of stupidity too.
What happened in Nimes is also part of his learning curve. He is, more than ever, the target now. "He is Mbappe the World Cup winner now," as Deschamps put it on Monday. And he will have to deal with getting kicked around or tackled hard all season long.
"I need to learn to be above [bad tackles from the opposition]. If I get angry every weekend, I will get a lot of red cards so I need to be above that," Mbappe explained after the game. However, he also said the total opposite a few seconds later when he stated that he had no regrets.
"If I had the chance to do it over again, I would do the same thing. I will apologise to the supporters and everybody, but I cannot tolerate this sort of thing."
In short: He wants to learn from his mistakes and wants to rise above bad tackles but would do the same thing again in the same situation. Mbappe understood that his comments didn't make much sense and his lack of regrets didn't go down well within his club, either. The young forward would go on to rectify his comments on social media the following day. "I would like to apologise for my behaviour last night and my reaction that spoiled our beautiful collective win," he wrote on Twitter.
This season, Mbappe is learning how to deal with a new status as a result of his remarkable rise in 2017-18. In turn, we've learned that it will take him some time to adjust. Despite his incredible career trajectory so far, he's still a teenager.
Thomas Tuchel defended his player publicly but surely the PSG manager will have a word in private, too.
"Am I angry with him? No, no, no. It is a real shame, but he pushed an opponent. It was a horrible foul on him and he had an emotional reaction. He was lucky not to be seriously injured. I want him to stay calm but in a game like this, it is not easy. He didn't hit anyone -- he pushed someone. I am sad but not angry," said Tuchel. Deschamps will surely also have a chat with his striker during the international break as well.
Former players and World Cup winners like Bixente Lizarazu or Christophe Dugarry have also backed Mbappe to bounce back.
"I want to defend him. It is easy to say that players should keep their cool but the Nimes player [midfielder Teji Savanier] is trying to cut him in half. Let's not forget that [Mbappe] is still only 19 and this is part of what he will have to learn," said Dugarry.
Mbappe could miss up to five league games, depending on the report from referee Jerome Brisard and depending on how tough the discipline committee is when they study his case on Wednesday. He'd wanted to explain himself in front of them but will be training with France in Munich instead as the World Cup champions prepare to face Germany on Thursday. A five-match ban would be a huge blow, but more importantly, the PSG No. 7 showed a weakness that future opponents might try to exploit: Frustrate him, kick him and get him to react in the same way he did in Nimes.
The real test will come over the next few weeks. It might take a bit of time, but we will then see if Mbappe has learned from his mistakes.