COACH BACKS MBAPPE TO FIRE

Jardim is con­fi­dent Kylian will be fo­cused de­spite trans­fer spec­u­la­tions

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MONACO head coach Leonardo Jardim is con­fi­dent that Kylian Mbappe will be fo­cused for the start of his side’s Ligue 1 ti­tle de­fence at Toulouse to­day, de­spite be­ing linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid.

The prin­ci­pal­ity side stunned Paris Saint-Ger­main last sea­son to claim their first French cham­pi­onship in 17 years, although PSG have flexed their mus­cles in the trans­fer win­dow and look set to sign Ney­mar for a worl­drecord €222 mil­lion(RM1.12 bil­lion) from Barcelona.

Monaco’s suc­cesses of last sea­son, when they also reached the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nals, were built with a young team, in­clud­ing the 18-year-old Mbappe.

But they will kick off the new cam­paign with an al­ready-de­pleted squad af­ter the de­par­tures of Bernardo Silva and Ben­jamin Mendy to Manch­ester City and mid­fielder Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea, while for­ward Valere Ger­main de­cided to switch to do­mes­tic ri­vals Mar­seille.

But Mbappe, who scored 15 Ligue 1 goals and six goals in as many Cham­pi­ons League knock­out games last term as he burst onto the scene, is still a Monaco player, and Jardim doesn’t think he was af­fected by trans­fer spec­u­la­tion dur­ing a dif­fi­cult pre-sea­son.

“Mbappe didn’t score dur­ing pre-sea­son, but he’s been work­ing very hard,” he told the club web­site on Wed­nes­day.

“You can only do your talk­ing on the pitch. A high-level player does not need mo­ti­va­tion.”

Pol­ish cen­tre-back Kamil Glik was one of the play­ers who joined a year ago to sign new con­tracts in the close-sea­son, along with French in­ter­na­tional full-back Djib­ril Sidibe, who has been ruled out of the sea­son-opener against Toulouse with a knee prob­lem.

“Mbappe is the same as twothree months ago, I see no dif­fer­ence,” said Glik.

“We will try to do as well as last sea­son. We are the cham­pi­ons, we have to have great am­bi­tion. The play­ers who have ar­rived can do as well as the ones who left.”

Monaco have stuck to their pol­icy of buy­ing po­ten­tial stars at a young age.

They moved to re­place the out­go­ing Bakayoko with Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder Youri Tiele­mans, and he im­pressed in last Satur­day’s 2-1 de­feat to PSG in the French Cham­pi­ons’ Tro­phy.

On Wed­nes­day, they also se­cured the sign­ing of 21-year-old striker Adama Di­akhaby from Rennes.

“This is my fourth sea­son, we work with the play­ers we have,” added Jardim.

“My goal is to help the play­ers progress, to play well and to have good re­sults.

“The club sold lit­tle last year, this year there have been more de­par­tures. But each year the most im­por­tant are the play­ers who stay.

“The club be­lieves in my work to make the project grow. The re­sults sup­port this strat­egy. It was a dream sea­son last year, but to think that we will do the same is to not un­der­stand foot­ball.”

PSG will start their bid to win back the ti­tle with a home game against newly-pro­moted Amiens to­mor­row, when Ney­mar’s Brazil team-mate Dani Alves is likely to make his French top-flight de­but.

Sun­day’s clash be­tween Lille and Nantes will see two new head coaches go head-to-head at the Stade Pierre-Mau­roy.

Lille boss Marcelo Bielsa has made 13 close-sea­son sign­ings as he looks to re­vi­talise the 2011 cham­pi­ons, while Clau­dio Ranieri will make his bow in charge of Nantes, only 15 months af­ter guid­ing Leicester City to their shock English Pre­mier League tri­umph. AFP

REUTERS PIC

Monaco’s new sign­ing Youri Tiele­mans im­pressed in the match against PSG on July 29.

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