Deprived of Kylian Mbappé for three weeks, PSG will have to get used to living without their offensive trump card in view of the European shock against Bayern Munich in mid-February, an apprenticeship which begins on Saturday in front of Toulouse during the 22nd Ligue 1 day.
The announcement of the unavailability of the 2018 world champion, affected in the left thigh, had the effect of a cold shower on the Parisian side on Thursday, but we must now find the solution to limit the impact of his absence as much as possible.
Even if with Lionel Messi and Neymar the PSG has two other monsters in attack, the package of Mbappé, top scorer of the C1 tied with Mohamed Salah (7 achievements), could prove problematic as the prodigy of Bondy (24 years ), with maddening statistics, provides solutions on a tactical level and gives chills to the opponent by his mere presence on the field.
You can’t replace a player of this size with the snap of your fingers and Christophe Galtier must now solve an equation that looks more like a puzzle. Because the alternative options available to the coach are not legion.
Numerically, Galtier only has the young Hugo Ekitike (20) to line up as center forward. The former Rémois also started the two matches disputed without Mbappé in 2023 in L1, when the Parisian N.7 had been entitled to ten days of rest to recover from his emotions from the Mondial-2022.
– Messi as leader –
But if Ekitike can do the job very well in the league and against Téfécé on Saturday at the Parc des Princes, the tenure of such an inexperienced player for a round of 16 first leg of the Champions League against a European cador is not necessarily going to self. Especially since his performances are still largely perfectible, the striker having scored only 3 goals in L1 this season in 14 appearances, including 8 as a substitute.
Apart from Ekitike, only the Spaniard Carlos Soler, very disappointing since his arrival last summer, and the two youngsters Ismaël Gharbi and Ilyes Housni remain in attack while Paris missed their target in the winter transfer window after the incredible failure of the loan of Moroccan Chelsea Hakim Ziyech due to an administrative problem.
The offensive arsenal seems a bit limited in view of facing Bayern even if Galtier said Friday at a press conference that he had “no regrets” having to deal with a limited workforce.
“The transfer window is always difficult, he explained. We will do with the workforce that I have at my disposal. I have a quality workforce, quality young people who are also arriving. I am not at all bitter”.
The absence of Mbappé can however cause a kind of electric shock on the side of Lionel Messi by empowering him much more and increasing his influence. In Montpellier on Wednesday in L1 (3-1), the seven-time Ballon d’Or took matters into their own hands when Mbappé left, in a Parisian formation also orphaned by Neymar, who will be forfeited again on Saturday due to an “adductor discomfort”, according to the club.
Without Mbappé and pending the return of Neymar, the Argentine world champion appears as the “X factor” of PSG.
“There were a lot of connections between Leo, Kylian and Ney but now I have to organize the team around Leo,” Galtier said.
“It’s up to the players who will replace Mbappé and Neymar to raise their level of play, to be available and to seize this opportunity. Messi will be in his register, in an area where he likes to evolve. In Montpellier, he has been a natural leader and the players put themselves at the service of him. When Leo puts himself at the service of the team, the players must put themselves at the service of Leo, it is an obligation.”