Kylian Mbappe plays football “like a steam train” and showed his quiet leadership qualities with the double that fired France into the World Cup knockout rounds, says boss Didier Deschamps.
Les Bleus secured a 2-1 victory over Denmark thanks to a brace from the forward, to seal their progress from Group D after an opening win against Australia.
Having shot to stardom four years ago as the poster boy for France’s World Cup victory at Russia 2018, Mbappe has arrived at Qatar 2022 with greater weight on his shoulders after an injury to Karim Benzema.
But Deschamps feels there is no extra heat upon him, who continues to be an integral part of the national set-up regardless of who his team-mates are with his attacking dominance.
“He’s a leader,” he stated. “I don’t think leadership has one face. Kylian doesn’t speak, he’s not very talkative. However, he’s like a steam train on the pitch. He’s the one that gets the crowd going.
“Kylian’s always got the same responsibility. He knows the French team need him, and we need him to be at his best. The proof is in the pudding from the first two games.”
1 – France are the first nation to reach the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup. This is the first time the reigning champions have reached the round of 16 since Brazil in 2006. Champions. #FRADAN pic.twitter.com/9mArtA7klC
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) November 26, 2022
With Benzema’s absence, Mbappe is just one of five players with a half-century of caps under their belt for the national team in Qatar, alongside Hugo Lloris, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane.
It marks a squad peppered with youthful faces and limited top-level experienced for Les Bleus, but Deschamps does not feel that is a hindrance, pointing to their sparkling club reputations.
“I have a great pool of players,” he added. “I’m very lucky to be able to fall back on this pool of players.
“Most of them don’t have 50 caps, but they play in the best European clubs, I have a high-quality squad with an excellent mindset.”