PSG coach Tuchel plays down spat with Mbappe

SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE, FRANCE (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coach Thomas Tuchel on Monday attempted to play down a touchline spat with Kylian Mbappe which overshadowed the French champions’ big weekend win over Montpellier.

“There is nothing personal between him and me. These things happen,” said Tuchel after Mbappe reacted angrily to being substituted midway through the second half of PSG’s 5-0 victory at the Parc des Princes, with Mauro Icardi taking his place.

“It was between a player who does not want to come off, and a coach who had his reasons for doing something, and who wanted to give a game to players who deserved it.”

After last Saturday’s match, Tuchel admitted that the reaction of Mbappe “doesn’t look good” and pointed out that, “This is football, not tennis, and you have to respect everyone.”

The 21-year-old World Cup winner, who had scored his 14th league goal of the season in the victory, exchanged words with Tuchel as he came off, and then stormed to his seat on the bench, throwing away a training top in disgust.

File photo shows Paris Saint-Germain’s forward Kylian Mbappe speaking with coach Thomas Tuchel as he leaves the pitch after his substitution. PHOTO: AFP

Tuchel said he discussed the matter again at training the next day, with the player and with club’s Sporting Director Leonardo.

“I spoke about it yesterday with Leo, of course, and with the squad, as we generally do. But what I said will remain in the dressing room,” added Tuchel, speaking before PSG return to league action away to Nantes.

Returning to the incident, he added, “We had the game wrapped up, and it was a chance to take off Pablo (Sarabia) and Kylian, and put on Mauro and ‘Edi’ (Cavani), who deserved to get some minutes.

“I know it is hard to accept for some players, but these are sporting matters that they should be able to understand.”

With PSG returning to action in midweek, and also having a Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund looming ever closer on the horizon, Tuchel could also be excused for being less than impressed with Neymar’s latest off-field antics.

The Brazilian – who sported a pink hair-do in the win against Montpellier – organised a lavish celebration ahead of his 28th birthday at a Parisian nightclub in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower last Sunday night, including an all-white dress code.

Tuchel insisted that the event would not have an influence on his team selection for the trip to face a Nantes side who sit ninth in the table.

The Brazilian, however, will not be risked due to a rib complaint, the club said late on Monday.