Leonardo granted us, Monday, his first interview since his return to PSG, June 14. The Paris sports director had a lot to say. On Neymar, the mercato and its methods.
But not only. Here is the second part of this interview, devoted to Thomas Tuchel, the German coach he gets to know and with whom he wants to work in the long term and Kylian Mbappé, the new star of world football on which he relying on his club to win.
ON THOMAS TUCHEL. "It's fluid between us, we have a really direct agreement"
In the first part of the interview you gave us on Monday, you spoke at length about your desire to build over time, in stability. This serenity displayed, is this the message passed to Thomas Tuchel, the coach, when you saw it?
LEONARDO. We talked freely about everything. On the technical side, the club, goals. It's fluid between us, we have a really direct agreement, we talk about everything. He was on duty when I arrived, it's up to me to understand what's going on, to make sure to be close. Our relationships are healthy, we work quietly.
Did you feel Thomas Tuchel worried about your arrival?
The end of the season was difficult. You lose against Manchester, then you lose the final of the Coupe de France and some league games … It's normal that it leaves traces. But if we are lucid, we must also say that there are also many things well done. We have everything, here, all the conditions to succeed. You can not always find excuses for not succeeding. If we have a problem, we move forward. A new problem is emerging? We are still moving forward. If we stop, we change all the time … We can not work like that, by multiplying the tests. It is necessary that things settle, be perennial.
So you want to move with Tuchel?
He has two years of contract. We do not even discuss that. You win, you lose, it's life. We are going forward.
What do you like about him?
He has his ideas, clear. He knows what he wants. For him, it was a first year abroad, he went from the German mentality to the French, very different. He is learning. But I think he's strong, he has his beliefs. He has a good working group.
ON KYLIAN MBAPPÉ. "It will be over time that he will be judged"
During the presentation of the UNFP Awards, Kylian Mbappé, in a remarked speech, asked for more responsibilities. Will he get them?
Kylian, it's special. He is 20 years old and is already installed in the world top. Being Kylian Mbappé is already a responsibility in itself. After, the difficulty is the world of football and what has become of it. But Kylian manages that. He had an incredible 2016-2017 season in Monaco and managed a big transfer. The next season, he plays a World Cup, he wins …
Mbappé has been with the club for two years, he still has three years of contract. Is it a priority to discuss extension with him?
There is no question of whether it is a priority or not. Mbappé is there, it is very important for the club, there is no debate on it. At the resumption of training on Monday, he arrived with a super attitude, a smile. Like always. He is charismatic, people love him very much. It is important to have in the squad a player like him, young, smiling.
Should we extend it?
It is not a question. I never make promises. For two reasons: the first is that I am not the one who does everything in this club; the second, I do not want to make a promise in the air, without being certain of being able to hold them. The only thing that interests me is the concrete, it's today.
Football question: what is Kylian Mbappé's favorite place? In point, on one side, in an attack with two?
If you look at the career and career of great players, even those of the past, you realize that they have all played in several positions. This was the case of Zidane. Cristiano Ronaldo played on the left, on the right, in 9, a little behind. Ronaldinho has evolved everywhere. Neymar and Messi have also changed a lot. A player like Mbappé can do whatever he wants, evolve almost anywhere. He has so much quality: he is fast, lively, agile, technical, he has a good shot, he is intelligent, he has a sense of placement, knows how to create spaces … He has everything.
You mention Ronaldo, Zidane, Messi to talk about Mbappé. Is he already at this level? And in what areas can he still progress?
There is a proverb in Spain that says: we really know the bullfighter and his value after he received the first blow of horn. The way Kylian handles the first difficulties will be important to know his true value. Difficulties can happen, even if I do not wish him, and seeing how he reacts will be important. Until then, he has an irreproachable course. It's perfect. If he continues 15 years like that, he will be at the height of Messi or Ronaldo. At 34, Ronaldo, he is still there. Why ? Because he holds his life, his body … They have this consistency in work, discipline. It's fundamental to last. And it is on the duration that Mbappé will be judged. He is 20, mature, he will move forward.
Should the PSG build the future around Kylian Mbappé?
He is a great player. Yes, a great player …