Why Kylian Mbappé is making less of an impact under Luis Enrique at PSG
Les Parisiens have taken seven points from a possible 15 in Europe and are unbeaten this season in games in which the France international has been on target.
A 96th-minute goal from a highly dubious penalty saw Kylian Mbappé save PSG from defeat against Newcastle that could have left them with no chance of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League. Les Parisiens have taken seven points from a possible 15 in Europe and are unbeaten this season in games in which the France international has been on target, a statistic that underlines his importance to the team.
However, Mbappé’s performances have raised doubts in France. Le Parisien, an outlet close to PSG, underlines that Mbappé's performances are not the same with PSG as they are with the French national team. Although his numbers are impressive - 17 goals and two assists in 17 games this season - the forward’s level in the Champions League, like on Tuesday against Newcastle, is not convincing some in Paris.
Luis Enrique’s style
One of the reasons that may explain this lack of prominence in the team’s play is Luis Enrique’s style, which is focused on attacking continuously on the right flank with Achraf Hakimi and Ousmane Dembélé, while on the left, which is where Mbappé usually features, the France captain usually plays without a left-back to double up with him to create overloads and give him freedom.
Mbappé in a free role
The Asturian coach, however, sometimes plays players like Vitinha and Kang-in Lee as wingers so that Mbappé can play in a free role. Mbappé’s recent games in the Champions League, particularly away from home, have shown a certain struggle in adapting to Luis Enrique’s style, which is not to say that the former Spain coach is restricting his potential by trying to prioritise attacking down the right flank.
Another reason for this irregularity is the position of the No 9, in which Lucho has played Marco Asensio, Kang-in Lee, Gonçalo Ramos and Randal Kolo Muani, different attacking profiles without any of them being established in the starting line-up.
Against Newcastle, one of Luis Enrique’s key moves came in the second half, bringing on Bradley Barcola, who plays as a left winger, and relocating Mbappé to the centre-forward position, in a much more central position than he usually occupies. The France international created two glaring chances for his team-mate and was much more incisive in PSG’s play. It now remains to be seen how his role develops under Luis Enrique as the club heads into 2024.