Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has agreed with legendary midfielder Xavi that Kylian Mbappe lacks “footballing maturity.”
Xavi, now 38 and playing with Al Sadd in Qatar, told Radio Catalunya his thoughts on the France international. And asked about the ex-Barcelona lagend’s comments ahead of the Ligue 1 giants’ Champions League Group C clash away at Napoli on Tuesday, the German tactician agreed.
“It is normal that Kylian still has room for improvement,” said Tuchel at Stadio San Paolo on Monday. “He is just 19 years old. He is incredible — he is one of the best players in the world right now and he is going to be the best. Xavi is right, Kylian needs to improve, but that is totally normal at 19.”
Tuchel also took the opportunity to confirm that midfielder Marco Verratti’s drink-driving incident is now water under the bridge after PSG took action against the Italy international last week.
“Marco made a mistake,” the former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 coach said. “It was a bit of a difficult situation at night, but he trained very well each session and was excellent against Lille.
“Marco is young and when you are young, you make mistakes — it is normal. It was not professional, so we do not like it, but it was not a big deal and it is forgotten now.”
Tuchel refused to be drawn on whether Julian Draxler, Adrien Rabiot or both will start in Naples, while he also revealed that a decision will be taken regarding Edinson Cavani the morning of the match.
“I cannot tell you if I prefer Julian or Adrien,” said the 45-year-old. “That is not possible. Edinson is with us and has trained, so we will decide on the morning of the match.”
Regarding goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s return to Italy and his decision to announce that the Azzurri star is starting ahead of time, Tuchel expressed his delight at having two top shot-stoppers at his disposal with Buffon and Alphonse Areola.
“Gianluigi is very important,” he said. “He will play, and he knows Napoli. Gigi is a champion and a legend.
“I trust Alphonse as well, but Gigi is back from suspension in the Champions League. It was a matter of respect towards him. We will be playing in Italy and against Napoli, so it was clear that he deserved to play and not be a substitute in a game like this one.
“I am very proud to have two goalkeepers like Gigi and Alphonse — they are incredible. Both have extraordinary qualities and great personalities.
“Gigi accepts Alphonse and he is necessary in order to improve him. We use Gigi for that sort of thing and Alphonse has a lot of respect for Gigi at the same time. This is exactly what a coach wants.”
Buffon himself is looking forward to the clash but knows very well that Stadio San Paolo is not an easy place to go and win.
“I know this stadium very well,” said the former Juventus man. “My opinion is that it is very difficult to win here. For us, it is very important that we try to win this match.
“There is a real communion between the supporters and the team. It is still complicated, though, as the Napoli team that I saw in Paris is one to be respected.”
Asked about his return to Italy with PSG, Buffon admitted it is a special moment for him and that the emotions he feels are what pushed him to continue playing this summer.
“These are emotions,” he said. “If I chose to keep playing at 40, that is why. Returning to Italy is particularly special — I hope that I can put in a good performance.”
Buffon also reserved special praise for Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and his success as a coach, not just his personality.
“I think the same,” he said. “Carlo is somebody very special, atypical and who manages to be appreciated by everyone.
“We often talk about the person that he is but the fact that he is a great coach, above all, needs to be emphasised.”