Monaco's Leonardo Jardim: Benching Kylian Mbappe not a punishment
Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim says his decision to push Kylian Mbappe to the fringes of his squad is to "protect him from the storm" over a potential move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Also linked to Manchester City and Real Madrid among others, Mbappe, 18, has told Monaco he wants to join PSG this summer.
After featuring in the French champions' first Ligue 1 game of the season, the France international was an unused substitute in last weekend's victory over Dijon, and is expected to start on the bench again when Monaco go to Metz on Friday.
But rather than being punished for his reported desire to leave the club, Jardim said the decision was for Mbappe's own good.
"We've never been in the habit of punishing our players," he told reporters. "It's not the right word. It's rather to protect him. With all these things around an 18-year-old kid, it's our responsibility to protect him from the storm. It's a decision of the club.
"That means me, Vadim [Vasilyev, Monaco vice-president] and the sporting director [Antonio Cordon]. It's our decision for the player, the squad, the club.
"I'm always for protecting players who need it. My philosophy is to play with the available players who are at 100 percent. Kylian is not 100 percent, he's not in form right now. It's normal. If another paper offers you 15 times your salary, you'll type less well on your computer..."
In Manchester City duo Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, and Chelsea's Tiemoue Bakayoko, Jardim has already lost three key members of his title-winning squad this summer.
Should Mbappe depart, it would be another significant blow, but Jardim's remodelled side have won both league games to date, and he vowed to carry on even if his teenage forward leaves between now and the closing of the transfer window.
"The players who stay are the most important," he said. "We played without [Anthony] Martial and [Geoffrey] Kondogbia, who left in previous seasons, and now we have to play without Bernardo Silva, Bakayoko, Mendy, it's always like that.
"Play well with those who are left, that's the working attitude. I've been here a long time. I've never cried because a player was injured or left."
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman