Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Gael Kakuta

There were quite a few players who finished with 7 points earned in Ligue 1 at the weekend. But after thought the player of the week has gone to Gael Kakuta.

Kakuta was involved in one of the best games of the season in Ligue 1 as his team Amiens who are struggling with relegation drew 4-4 against the champions PSG in an emotional rollercoaster ride, that every fan would want to relive again and again.

For Amiens it was a valuable point earned although they could still go down but at times it looked like they would get all three points as they raced into a 3-0 lead.

Whilst Kakuta didn’t score any goals, he was a real handful the whole game and was seen in attack, in midfield and helping out in defence as PSG came back into the game in the second half. But what Kakuta really did was provide his service. That started as early as the 5th minute when he set up Sehrou Guirassy to put Amiens in the lead, and the stadium went wild.

With Amiens 2-0 up, Kakuta also assisted in the 3rd goal, passing to Fousseni Diabate just at the pivotal time and that put Amiens 3-0 up and seemingly that was the game over. As we all know PSG pulled back and then went 4-3 up, before Guirassy became the hero in the final minute and made it 4-4, so in the end this draw would have felt like a win in some respects for the club.

As for Kakuta he has 22 points in the fantasy Ligue 1 rankings so far and is the 2nd best Amiens player of the season. He is just 6 points behind Guirassy. Kakuta is valued at 7m and is a regular started for the club playing 20 games so far from the first whistle.

The midfielder has scored 2 goals and has assisted in a further 5 goals, making his contribution to Amiens goals this season stand at 7. With the club scoring 29 goals in total that means Kakuta has contributed to almost 25% of their goals, which is a good return just for one player.  He has helped the club also keep 4 clean sheets but has also been booked 4 times this season although he hasn’t been sent off yet.

Amiens still look likely to go down and the truth is Kakuta is just too good for Ligue 2 football and if the club are relegated one could suspect that Amiens would be forced to sell him.This weekend they will play 7th placed Strasbourg away.

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Toulouse are down and out but did VAR make the right decision?

Picture this if you will, down in bottom place of Ligue 1 and 14 points from safety, lost 18 games this season and conceded 51 goals. Nothing is going right for Toulouse and that was underlined at the weekend when playing at home they lost to Nice 2-0.

But there would be a couple of controversial moments during the game that certainly affected it for a club who prepared for this one. They had known that Nice do not have the best away record and that they have been a club when needed to win or expected to win against a bottom three side have done a great job in the past of messing it up. Toulouse knew they would be the outsiders- although curiously the bookmakers had matched up the sides with the same price and chance of winning. There was something in the air.

Toulouse look doomed in Ligue 1, but before the weekend, they looked doomed but had a small chance, a win here would have created a buzz missing in the club, and with no wins in the last four months, it was something that they needed. But the game was over before it had really got going after Nice took a 12th minute lead through Pierre Lees Melou. The balance was still there though and Toulouse were not about to give up. But fifteen minutes later the towel was thrown in with the help of VAR.

Toulouse defender Ruben Gabrielsen was adjudged to have made a professional foul but it did look 50/50 as both him and striker grappled for position. A straight red just seemed harsh in the circumstances but that’s what happened and when you are the bottom club, 1-0 down and now have 10 men in under 30 minutes it is literally game over. The home support voiced their frustrations but there was nothing they could do about it.

In the second half Toulouse had another player sent off, and this time VAR got it right. Steven Moreira kicked out but the referee only saw that as a yellow card until VAR intervened and changed it to a red card, and it was fully deserved. The icing on the cake ended with Toulouse missing a penalty to make it 1-1 and then Nice going down the other end to get their 2nd in a game that finished 2-0 to the away side.

Toulouse will look back at what looked like a controversial sending off, and one wonders unless a player is being very violent or comes in with a ‘leg breaking’ tackle if they need to be more lenient so early in games. After all having 11 players play 10 it just seems to end the contest before it has really got started, and no one wants that.

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Ligue 1 Fantasy Picks for the Weekend: Matchday 25

It’s week 25 of the French league season, let’s look ahead to the players that could make all the difference to your fantasy team this weekend in Ligue 1.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Steve Mandanda- Marseille

There is only one goalkeeper worth talking about and that is Steve Mandanda. He has kept 5 clean sheets in a row and Marseille will play Lille at the weekend. With 61 points Mandanda is ranked as the best goalkeeper currently in the league and he would cost 8.5m.

Defender: Pablo- Bordeaux

Bordeaux have kept 2 clean sheets from their last four games and Pablo has been good at the heart of defence. He has kept 6 clean sheets and even has 3 goals, so a good all round player and he could really be worth adding to your team.

Defender: Yunis Abdelhamid- Reims

Yunis Abdelhamid has been really impressive for Reims this season and the club will be at home to Rennes and determined to get back to winning ways. The defender has kept 10 clean sheets this season and also scored three goals.

Defender: Axel Disasi- Reims

Disasi has 46 points and like his teammate he has kept 10 clean sheets. What has been impressive with Reims this season has been how they do not concede many goals. For example at home the club have conceded 7 goals, only Lyon with 6 have shipped less.

Defender: Laurent Koscielney- Bordeaux

Koscielney has 22 point and has helped his club keep 6 clean sheets this season. Bordeaux have picked up on some form and are at home to Dijon where they will be looking to keep another clean sheet.

Midfielder: Houssem Aouar- Lyon

Aouar has helped with 7 clean sheets and been involved in 6 Lyon goals. He is the invisible player, that just gets the job done. Also Lyon will be looking to get back to winning ways and they could do just that being at home against Strasbourg.

Midfielder: Mehdi Abeid- Nantes

Mehdi Abeid has scored a goal and been involved in two assists, with the way he plays down the flank his club will be looking to him as they try and stop a 3 game losing streak. They will play Metz at the weekend have every chance of winning.

Midfielder: Xavier Chavalerin- Reims

Chavalerin has become one of the most important players for Reims and he has 22 points and scored one goal but also assisted in a further three. Reims are at home to Rennes and have the quality to shape that game if he is on form. He is valued at 6m.

Midfielder: Ibrahim Sangare- Toulouse

This is an interesting one as Toulouse have been so poor this season. But they will be at home to Nice, who have been a little under confident lately, and what do Toulouse have to lose now? Sangare is a risky choice to have a good game but is valued at just 5m and he could come good this weekend.

Striker: Andy Delort- Montpellier

Andy Delort is scoring goals again and could add to his tally this weekend as Montpellier take on Monaco who have a leaky defence. Delort has 9 goals and 3 assists so far.

Striker: Islam Slimani- Monaco

It was really important that Slimani found the net last weekend and that could give him the confidence to continue scoring goals for Monaco. He has scored 8 goals this season and assisted in another seven which has been really impressive.

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Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Alexander Djiku

Alexander Djiku who plays for Strasbourg picked up 9 points at the weekend and he is the player of the week in Ligue 1.

Although his team mate, Kenny Lala also got 9 points it was down to fine margins, simply put Djiku not only got the ball rolling by scoring from open play as Strasbourg beat Reims, but Lala scored a penalty.

For Djiku it was the perfect game, as Strasbourg beat Reims 3-0, with Djiku being a defender it meant that he picked up points for a clean sheet as well as his goal. It was a goal scored in the 50th minute with the tie still at 0-0, so very important and it was a fantastic header too by Djiku which would ultimately break the deadlock.

You could sense that both him and his team were extra happy with the victory over Reims given that Reims had knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue just a few weeks ago. That game ending 0-0 and Strasbourg being the better side but going out on a penalty shoot-out.

As for Djiku that goal was his first of the season from 22 starts, he has also assisted in a goal too. However the player’s main duty is keeping things tight at the back and this season he has been able to keep 7 clean sheets. For his team he ranks in at third with 30 points and is 8 behind Kenny Lala.

From a wider point of view Djiku is currently 19th for his position in the league. If you’re thinking of adding the player to your team he would cost you 7m.

It was a big win nonetheless for Strasbourg who have moved up to 6th place with 36 points and are just 4 points shy of the top four and five points from a possible Champions League place. It has been a yo-yo season for the club so far but form is good and they have won 3 from their last four games.

Djiku is just 25 and has his best years ahead of him. It’s a tough ask for him to break into the national side given the quality they already have in defence. This is the player’s first season with Strasbourg and he has made an impact at the back, at home for example the club have only conceded 14 goals with Djiku at the back.

At 6ft tall he is the perfect height for a defender and with the club picking up wins, and him scoring a goal this should give him some more confidence to finish the season well.

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PSG win 6 goal thriller against Lyon as brilliant Lille close in on 3rd place

A meeting between the two most successful sides in French football over the last 20 years was always going to garner the most attention and PSG and Lyon who have won 14 league titles between them in the last 17 league seasons didn’t let anyone down.

The game in Paris ended 4-2 to the league champions and whilst Lyon played their part they simply could not handle just how good PSG were. Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe had seemingly wrapped up the game early on as PSG went in at half time 2-0 up. In the first half they had dominated possession and allowed no shots on target for the visitors.

The game was, in effect, over just a few minutes into the second half when PSG went 3-0 up courtesy of a bizarre own goal scored by Fernando Marcel. It was bizarre in the fact that it was such a good clinical goal- had it been a PSG player we would have been talking about it for some time. The player was obviously devastated and sunk to the ground in disbelief, he knew the game was over.

But then a miracle almost happened as Lyon’s Martin Terrier and Moussa Dembele who has been so good for Lyon this season both scored in the space of 7 minutes and suddenly Lyon were back in the game it was 3-2 with half an hour still to play. But PSG showed quality as they took down the level of the game and controlled the pace. Finally with ten minutes to go Edinson Cavani scored for the home side to win the game 4-2 and it was an important redemption goal for the Uruguayan who has felt left out of the side and was so close to leaving in the January transfer window. PSG remain on top with 61 points and are 12 points clear of Marseille.

Marseille did win at the weekend but they were quite disappointing at home against the bottom side Toulouse winning just 1-0 through a Dimitri Payet goal, Payet is on great form lately but Marseille had just 3 shots on target against a club who have conceded 49 goals this season and more was expected of them. Nonetheless a win is a win and it was actually a decent weekend for Marseille because Rennes in 3rd place could only draw 0-0 at home to Brest.

Rennes have put unnecessary pressure on themselves now to claim a top 3 place, they have no wins in their last 2 games and only 1 victory in their last four. The pressure was maximised because Lille won their 3rd straight game in a row to move within one point of Rennes. Lille beat Angers 2-0 away from home and the club have started to improve on the road after a nightmare start, in form Victor Osimhen opened the scoring for Lille who eased to a win.

Montpellier are in 5th after a 1-0 win over Bordeaux as Andy Delort scored his 9th goal of the season. The win was even more impressive for Montpellier as they played a large section of the game with 10 men after Solomon Sambia was sent off.

Strasbourg’s good form continued and they have now won 3 games from their last four to go into 6th place after they easily beat Reims 3-0, a direct rival for a European finish. The club got their revenge over Reims after the side had knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue at the quarter final stage with a penalty shoot out. Reims had zero shots on goal in the whole game and they have slipped to 10th place as a result.

Are Monaco recovering and starting to show what they can do under new coach Robert Moreno? Well the club did win their 2nd game in a row as they beat Amiens away from home 2-1. It was only Monaco’s 3rd win on the road and a first for Moreno away from home. However Monaco were heading for defeat, with just a few minutes left of the game Amiens were winning 1-0. But Ligue 1 top goalscorer Wissam Ben Yedder struck for the equaliser and then Islam Slimani became the hero of the day scoring in injury time. Cesc Fabregas had only been on the pitch for 4 minutes as he came off of the bench to assist in the winning goal. That moves the club up to 7th place.

Bordeaux moved to 8th after they beat Metz 2-1 away from home and the club have now gone their last 4 matches unbeaten. Remi Oudin a new signing from Reims got the winner for Bordeaux with just five minutes remaining to start his career with his new club in memorable style.

There is just 3 points between 8th and 5th and so much to play for in the league regarding European places. Marseille have taken a large step in the right direction to qualify for the Champions League and now have an 8 point lead over Rennes in 3rd place. PSG look like they have won the league, but will the upcoming Champions League games distract the team, if so it is only Marseille who have the smallest of chances of catching them. Watch this space as the league hots up with just 14 games and 42 points left to play for.

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Nice and Nimes turns into a fury of bad tackles and cards

Two clubs from the south of France and eager to get points on the board for various different reasons clashed at the weekend, and although Nice and Nimes is not a derby it felt like one.

The most important stat though was that Nimes won 3-1, and this was seen a shock for the team who were in 19th place and have won just 6 games this season, indeed this was their first away win this season. It mattered and it mattered a lot and Nice, the home side, lost the chance to break into the top 7 as a result.

Whilst the game was a fantastic result for Nimes, it was pretty much overshadowed by some of the bad tackles going in, and the play acting and it made for a messy affair to watch for the neutral. The game certainly became the most controversial of the weekend with a bad feeling over it. Some would call it passion, but it seemed to go over that limit.

In total 7 cards were shown, which on reflection doesn’t seem like much but given that the first card didn’t appear until the 30th minute then we can see things in a different light. Also it means that there was a card of some description shown every 8 minutes on average.

Nimes’ Pablo Martinez got the ball rolling for roughing earning a yellow card and then just two minutes later it was the turn of Nice midfielder Stanley Nsoki for a bad foul and trip. The second half then exploded just 4 minutes in when Hichem Boudaoui made a bad challenge so bad that he was shown a straight red card and that seemed to set the mood for the game, it is important to note that the match was 1-1 at this time before the 10 men of Nice showed their disadvantage.

In the space of ten minutes there was a further 3 bookings which actually all went to Nimes, he ended up just being that much better, creating the space and finding the gaps to score a further 2 goals.

Patrick Vieira the Nice coach was none too pleased with his side who keep on losing or drawing games just when it looks like they will have a chance to compete for the top 5 places.This time they weren’t outclassed, they just lost their heads, some will argue that the referee was trigger happy showing so many cards but at the same time Nice have history of letting some games get to them when it really matters.

Nice have dropped to 11th place but next week they will face bottom club Toulouse and will be expected to win that game.

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Fantasy Ligue 1 Picks for Week 24

Ligue 1 has busy recently with midweek games meaning that the clubs would have played 3 games in one week. Will fatigue set in? It certainly looks that way for Marseille, who are trying to keep 2nd place. PSG will be champions again but there is plenty of excitement just below them with Champions League and Europa League spots up for grabs. Let’s take a look at the players who could make a difference this weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alexandre Oukidja- Metz

Alexandre Oukidja has come out as an unlikely hero for Metz who on form would be 4th in the table. He has only conceded 4 goals in the past month and for a club in the bottom half like Metz that is decent. He has 6 clean sheets so far this season, and this is the best bit, he would cost just 1.5m to bring in.

Defender: Duje Caleta-Car – Marseille

We will look at a few Marseille players to make up our team this weekend as the team in 2nd will play bottom club Toulouse and they are at home. Marseille have conceded just 1 goal in their past five games and are now playing the weakest team.

Defender: Alvaro-Marseille

Alvaro has built up a nice partnership at the back and has been involved in helping to keep 7 clean sheets. It was another keep sweep in Marseille’s last game as they beat Saint Etienne 2-0. Alvaro would cost just 4.5m.

Defender: Hiroki Sakai- Marseille

Sure there is a risk attached because Sakai was on the subs bench for the last game, but he is a great defender and proven himself this season. We are going for so many Marseille players because they are playing Toulouse a side who have scored just 10 goals away from home all season, and Marseille have lost just once at home this season and only conceded 9.

Defender: Malang Sarr- Nice

If anything Nice have kept it tight at the back lately, conceding 4 goals in the past month and are also in good form. Sarr has been important in his role and has been able to keep 3 clean sheets. Nice play Nimes at home and Sarr would cost 5.5m.

Midfielder: Gael Kakuta- Amiens

Gael Kakuta statistically has been Amiens best midfielder and has 15 points so far. He has helped the team keep 4 clean sheets including their last two games and he has scored a goal too, making him an all round player who could be a shrewd investment this weekend. He is valued at 7m and Amiens will be at home to Monaco.

Midfielder: Romain Amalfitano- Dijon

Romain Amalfitano has been a rock in midfield and is a big reason for Dijon’s good form recently. He has been involved in 6 clean sheets and scored and assisted this season. Dijon will be at home to Nantes.

Midfielder: Valentin Rongier- Marseille

Rongier has got 21 points so far this season and been an integral member of the squad. He hasn’t scored any goals as yet but has been involved in 3 assists and has helped in 9 clean sheets. They play Toulouse the bottom club this weekend.

Midfielder: Renato Sanches- Lille

Lille have found some good form and even though they have been poor away this season their form has picked up as they try to finish strongly. Sanches has been in decent form and would cost 7m and Lille will play on Friday night away to Angers who have been struggling lately.

Striker: M’baye Niang- Rennes

Rennes need to win their game and they will be at home where they have been strong and play Brest who have not travelled well this season. Niang may find lots of space and he has 7 goals this season.

Striker: Dimitri Payet- Marseille

One would think that Marseille will be full of goals when they play bottom side Toulouse at the weekend. Payet scored in the clubs last game against Saint Etienne and perhaps has found form? He has scored 7 goals and assisted in a further three and he should be a handful. He would cost a reasonable 7.5m.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week: Opa Nguette

Opa Nguette amassed 10 points this week and that is the most of any Ligue 1 player as the Metz striker helped his relegation threatened side to a fantastic 3-1 victory over Saint Etienne.

Nguette was on hand to score the opening goal. Then he assisted Habib Diallo, another player who is in great form for the second. Nguette then scored the 3rd goal which ended the tie and gave his club a much needed victory. It was a good one too even if, in the build up, it took some luck a ricochet in this instance. The cross met Nguette who slotted home well and he had to readjust himself quickly to do so as the pace off the ball wasn’t what he was expecting.

The win puts Metz in 16th place and they have climbed 7 points above the relegation zone, they should be fine this season. The club are in great form too having gone their last 5 games unbeaten including winning 3 games in a row, and are in their best form of the season, just at the right time.

Metz bought Nguette from Valenciennes in 2016 and the player who is now 25 has sometimes been used more as an attacking midfielder but also someone that can move up to the striker position if needed.

He is a very popular player with the team although his one drawback is not scoring enough goals from his position. Last season though he scored his most for a league term with 7 goals from 33 league appearances.

This season Nguette has amassed a total of 19 points from 19 starts. The player has scored 4 goals and assisted in a further 2 and it is clear that he has been under performing and this week has been his best this season in a Metz shirt. His current value is just 4.5m and he could be worth adding to your fantasy team, as this could be the beginning of something special for him as Metz will try and kick on and finish in the top half of the table which is very possible.

Whilst Nguette has found form and earned 10 points, that’s 55% of his total amount of points earned in just one game he could be a doubt for Metz’s next game. He has a niggling injury, and could be 50/50 to play in it, this is unfortunate as those goals would have installed a lot of confidence in a player that really needed them.

The objective is good though and the plan is working out and between him and Diallo Metz will have no problems in staying up this season.

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Rennes make a bid for the Champions League as Neymar and Mbappe overshadow PSG win

Rennes made big strides to try and qualify for the Champions League as they beat Nantes in a five goal thriller winning 3-2 at home. Raphinha was the hero for the home side grabbing two goals. Rennes would be a major surprise to make the Champions League but that is what finishing 2nd gives teams and they edged up each week to Marseille. The gap is just three points.

And the gap is three points because Marseille have imploded, or rather look like they are. The club have not lost for 10 matches but that makes no odds when you are drawing games and not winning them and they drew yet again on Sunday night, this time in disappointing fashion away to Bordeaux with the game ending 0-0.

That draw effectively ended Marseille’s already slim hopes of winning the league. Only a few weeks ago they had shortened the gap to league leaders PSG by 5 points but now that stands at 12 and it looks very difficult to think that PSG will drop so many points and Marseille will go on such a consistent run.

As for PSG, not many people would think that they had a fantastic result at the weekend when they overpowered Montpellier to win 5-0. Pablo Sarabia who has been in good form for the club opened the scoring.  It was interesting to see that from the five goals scored only one was scored by either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar. And it was Mbappe who got it, with Neymar assisting. All should have been well then with such an emphatic victory but it wasn’t.

The referee booked Neymar after an exchange of words that saw the Brazilian at half time question the officials, to which they replied, ”speak French”. Then there was Mbappe who realised that he needed one more goal to be joint top goalscorer in Ligue 1 with Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder. But PSG coach Thomas Tuchel instead took the player off for Mauro Icardi and Mbappe was furious with his coach. A heated exchange of words could be clearly seen and Mbappe sat in the dug out looking very gloom. Now the inevitable has happened and the media have linked Mbappe with a move away from Paris. One has to feel for Tuchel, he doesn’t always get it right but at the same time he has quite a few egos in the dressing room.

Lille got an important victory away to Strasbourg by winning 2-1. It was only Lille’s 2nd away victory of the season and came courtesy of a Victor Omishen penalty, the player has been in great form lately and that win took the club into 4th place and six points behind 3rd placed Rennes.

Lyon just can’t find enough consistency and after going their last 3 games unbeaten they came unstuck away to Nice, who have not lost a game in Ligue 1 for two months. To make matters worse for Lyon Fernando Marcal was sent off early on. Though the hosts also lost a player they just shaded the game. To be fair to Lyon with 7 strikes on goal they were hardly poor, but they will have to pick themselves up once more. The objective this season has to be a European finish and despite this fresh set back they are just two points from their target.

Reims propped up the table again and into 7th place after they surprised Angers and won 4-1 at Stade Raymond Kopa. Reims had been behind and the surprise was not just the comeback but the fact that they scored so many goals. Prior to the game the club had scored just 17 all season. What was also interesting is that Reims had just 4 shots on target and everyone of them ended in a goal.

With Nice beating Lyon as mentioned above they have moved into 8th and that has cost Nantes who lost to Rennes a top 8 place.

There are midweek games in Ligue 1 this weekend and Champions League and Europa League spots will be up once again for grabs.

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Kylian Mbappe’s row with PSG coach Thomas Tuchel could highlight a move away

Even though PSG beat Montpellier 5-0 in front of their home fans controversy was never that far away. Both Neymar and Mbappe were involved in skirmishes. Neymar’s story has been covered on here but involved getting booked. But Mbappe’s was much closer to home.

The star striker had scored in the game meaning that he now has 14 goals and is in 2nd place in the goalscorers chart one behind Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder, and perhaps that is why he flared up when PSG coach Thomas Tuchel ordered him to come off.

He was substituted for Mauro Icardi and Mbappe did not go quietly. Clearly it could be seen on the touchline his confrontation with Tuchel. Mbappe was furious as Tuchel tried to cradle his hands on his head and calm the player down.

In that moment it was evident that despite his brilliance as a team player and natural goalscorer and already of course a World Cup winner with France to see the little boy in him. He will probably look back on incidents like this and laugh them off, or at least he should do. Tuchel obviously took off Mbappe as PSG were 4-0 up at the time with just over 20 minutes remaining, why not bring on Icardi?

After the game Tuchel said: ”I’m the coach someone has to decide who goes off and who comes on it’s me. He is very intelligent, he knows what he is doing. He doesn’t like going off, nobody likes going off These are not good images, but we are not the only club that has to deal with this sort of thing. It’s not good, because it opens up subjects that go against the team’s state of mind. Too bad.  I explained to him why we did this, and it will stay that way. I will always decide the technical aspects. We don’t play tennis, we play soccer and we have to respect everyone.”

Tuchel added that the argument is not over. “I will make a decision, We have training at 11am, we will talk about the match with the group. I’ll see if I talk about this or if I do it individually. It will depend on my night’s sleep too.”

Speculation has now grown that Mbappe could want out of the club. He has always been linked to Real Madrid but the club would have to find at least 250m euros to make this happen, or perhaps a few player swaps could help.

Tuchel though seems blameless in the whole debate, he acted as a coach and did nothing wrong. Mbappe is an amazing player but sadly he has shown to throw his toys out of his pram on a few occasions in the past when he hasn’t got his own way. PSG and Tuchel will hope that this story can blow over.

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