New France skipper Mbappé pledges his talent to the collective in hunt for glory

By Paul Myers - RFI
MAR 23, 2023 LISTEN

Kylian Mbappé on Thursday rejected the tag of obsessive individualist as he spoke publicly for the first time after France coach Didier Deschamps appointed him skipper of the national team.

The 24-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker was named on Monday ahead of the European championship qualifiers against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

He replaces goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who retired in January after 13 years in the role. Antoine Griezmann will take over as vice-captain following Raphael Varane's decision to step down from international duties.

"My obsession is to win," Mbappé told reporters querying his collective work ethic. "And I can't do that alone.

"It's every boy's dream to be captain of the national team. There's obviously lots of joy and many emotions.

"Being captain isn't going to change how I play but maybe the way I behave. There are new responsibilities so I'll have to be aware of that."

Mbappé will lead the side out against the Netherlands on Friday night at the Stade de France on his 67th appearance for his country.

"It will be a pleasure to be a leader," Mbappé beamed.

"As a player it is great to play with good players. And in this squad there are people who learn quickly and they're gifted so it's great to be considered a leader of this group.

"I see myself as a link between the old and new generations," he added. "We must be a group united to head to the summit and by that I mean titles."

Deschamps warned his players to be prepared for two tough games in three days against the Dutch and the Republic of Ireland as they launch their quest for glory at next year's European championships in Germany. 

"They are both quality opponents," said Deschamps.
"It is not an easy return to action. We will have to be ready to perform immediately.

"The two matches are important."
As well as appointing a captain, Deschamps installed the AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan as Lloris' replacement.

Maignan missed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar due to injury but returned to action last month and was key in AC Milan's progress past Tottenham Hotspur into the last eight of the Champions League.

"He has overcome his injuries and he is well placed to take over from Hugo." said Deschamps.

"Of course, he won't have Hugo's experience but that will come. He has showed what he's capable of while winning the title with Lille and AC Milan.

"I have no doubt Mike has what it takes to perform at the very highest level."