Amid Madrid call, boss says Mbappé is usual self

It is business as usual for Kylian Mbappé as Paris Saint-Germain prepare for the Champions League knockout stages, head coach Luis Enrique said on Tuesday, despite sources telling ESPN the forward will leave the club this summer to join Real Madrid.

ESPN reported on Feb. 3 that Mbappé has made his decision to join Madrid, although he was yet to inform either club.

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Mbappé sat out of PSG’s Ligue 1 game at the weekend with an ankle injury but is set to return for when the game against Real Sociedad in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.

When asked if he had any feelings about it potentially being Mbappe’s final Champions League game at the Parc de Princes, Luis Enrique said: “This is not the way I feel and therefore I feel neither joy nor sadness — he [Mbappé] is as usual.”

Mbappé, who has scored 30 goals in 29 games this season, was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Lille, a precaution taken after he took a knock to his ankle three days previously in another 3-1 win, over Brest in the Coup de France.

“When a team has a player like Kylian Mbappé, of course we know that the more he plays the better, because we all benefit from that,” Luis Enrique said.

“There is no doubt about it. He could have played [on Saturday] if it had been a final, but it wasn’t, it was not worth the risk. Kylian Mbappé is available, just like the other players.”

The manager could afford to rest Mbappé in the league, where PSG now have an 11-point advantage at the top over Nice, and have gone 16 games unbeaten, but in the Champions League it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

PSG finished second in their group behind Borussia Dortmund and lost to Newcastle United and AC Milan. They are also without a win in their last three games in the competition, a sharp contrast to Real Sociedad.

Real Sociedad may be struggling domestically, seventh in LaLiga, but they topped their Champions League group, which included Inter Milan, and are undefeated in Europe this season.

“Real Sociedad have a tight defence in the Champions League, they don’t give the ball away easily. We have to press them aggressively,” Luis Enrique said.

“They are certainly one of the best teams in the competition, that is why they qualified as group winners. They were in a group with last year’s finalists.”

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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