What should we do about Kylian?

July 6 – What on earth has happened to Kylian Mbappe?

Okay he has been forced to wear a mask that limits his vision after breaking his nose but has been a pale shadow of the superstar we all know during Euro 2024 – scoring a solitary goal from the penalty spot.

“These are the vagaries of the footballer,” the France captain said after his latest below-par performance against Portugal in the quarterfinals when his team were lucky to progress courtesy of a 5-3 penalty shootout victory.

The rare sight of Mbappé being substituted was somewhat of an eye-opener for millions watching on tv as well as those in the stadium. France coach Didier Deschamps confirmed his skipper had actually asked to be replaced for the good of the team.

“He is always very honest with me and the team. When he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate then we can’t risk it, even a player like Kylian,” Deschamps said.

“With all that has happened to him – the issues he has had, the trauma with his nose – he is hanging in there. He is not in his top form. He felt very tired indeed.”

Having just joined Real Madrid after running down his contract at Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe has clearly been affected by what happened to him in France’s opening group game and has said repeatedly that he hates wearing the mask.

But the French haven’t won the Euros since 2000 and only their defence has been up to scratch despite all the talent.  Yet they are in a fourth semi-final in the last five major tournaments despite their paltry record in front of goal.

Even with no French player having scored a single goal in open play and the extra pressure heaped on their talisman, Mbappe isn’t fazed.

“I have said it before in lots of competitions. The most important thing is that we win. I don’t want to lie. In the dressing room we were not thinking much about the fact we didn’t score.”

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