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'Defences are 30 metres further back when I play' - Self-assured Mbappe talks up 'scary' pace

13:31 BST 12/06/2021
Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain PSG 2020-21
The France forward believes he can improve his goal record and score up to 60 goals per season if he can control his speed

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe says opponents move their defensive lines back 30 metres when he is on the field to accommodate for his pace.

The France striker's speed has been one of his greatest assets in his rapid rise to become one of the best players in the world.

Mbappe, 22, says he is working on controlling his speed when he closes in on defenders to give him better control of situations, and believes he could end up scoring 60 goals per season. 

What has been said?

"Now I know my speed is scary. When I'm not playing, the opponent's block is higher, at the limit of the halfway line," the attacker told France Football. "When I'm on, it automatically goes back 30 metres, even for a team like Bayern Munich who are known to play high enough. Against us, they were 30 metres behind compared to usual.

"Since the World Cup, it's rare that I find myself in a one-on-one situation. Opponents, they do everything to avoid that. At the beginning, it was a little difficult but I think I knew how to evolve my game, in particular by avoiding getting stuck along the line.

"With [PSG coach Mauricio] Pochettino, I worked on it a lot. I had to improve my finish, adapting it to my profile. When I arrive in front of a back line, I am at 37-38.5 km/h. It's not quite the same as a player who arrives at 26 km/h.

"I had to learn to decelerate a bit as I approached the goal to better control this speed. I was drawn in training to an area outside which I must not hit, because afterwards the angles are too small since I am too close to the goalkeeper.

"It's starting to come in because I scored quite a few goals this season shooting very quickly, even before the goalkeeper or the defender had time to react."

He added: "I'm just learning to manage this speed to, for example, switch to the approach of the goal from 38 to 33 km/h, which is usually the maximum speed of a defender. This reduction in speed should allow me to adjust as precisely as possible to 'finish' the action and avoid any rush.

"I must be the player who creates the most chances in Europe, but I am not yet the one who scores the most.

"Pochettino told me that if I could achieve more chances, I would end my seasons with more than 60 goals. He keeps telling me that I have to raise my standards and he is right."

Mbappe admires pace masters

The World Cup winner has been impressed by the pace of some other players, admitting that PSG team-mate Neymar has him beaten in one area.

He said: "Lately, I was talking with my father about a player I had noticed from the stands - because I was not playing - for his qualities of speed, it is Jeremy Doku, from Rennes. In five years with the pros, I have never seen downforce that gives off so much power.

"In the ultra-fast players, I would also put Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Neymar too, especially before his injuries. He could change his bearings at crazy speeds. There are other less explosive players at the start like Kyle Walker of Manchester City. He's like a tank that picks up speed once launched."

He added: "Ney is more elastic than me. I am more explosive. On the first presses, I go faster than him but, in the changes of direction with the ball, he is unique. On one step, he will break his trajectory and the kidneys of his defender."

How many goals did Mbappe score last season?

While the 2020-21 campaign was a disappointment for PSG, Mbappe had another impressive year. He finished top of the Ligue 1 goal charts with 27 goals - seven more than nearest challengers Memphis Depay and Wissam Ben Yedder.

Mbappe also struck eight times in the Champions League and seven in the Coupe de France - scoring one and setting up the other as his side beat Monaco 2-0 in the final.

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