France coach defends striker Kolo Muani despite his struggles at PSG

AP , Monday 13 Nov 2023

Although Randal Kolo Muani is having trouble adapting to life at Paris Saint-Germain, France coach Didier Deschamps is still backing him.

 Kolo Muani
PSG s Randal Kolo Muani, left, jumps for the ball with AC Milan s Fikayo Tomori during the Champions League group F soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. AP


The striker became PSG's third most expensive signing in club history when he moved from Eintracht Frankfurt for 95 million euros ($101 million) in September.

Joining PSG reunited him with France teammates Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé, the three who played in attack when the national team lost to Argentina in last year’s World Cup final.

But his performances with the French champions have not met expectations, and the trio has failed to impress, notably in the Champions League when they lost to AC Milan this month.

With three goals and two assists in 11 matches, Kolo Muani was, however, called up by Deschamps for European qualifiers against Gibraltar and Greece.

“Ah, you don't like Kolo,” Deschamps said Monday when asked about the striker's recent displays. “You are very hard on him. Too harsh. I may love him too much, but you don’t love him enough. You don’t see enough of what he can do, even though he can do better."

France has already qualified for next year’s Euro 2024 tournament in Germany and will look to secure first place in Group B. France hosts Gibraltar on Nov. 18 in Nice and then takes on Greece in Athens three days later.

Deschamps said he will give playing time to his three centre forwards: Kolo Muani, Olivier Giroud and Marcus Thuram.

Before his transfer to PSG, Kolo Muani scored 23 goals in 46 matches last season and started this campaign with three goals in four games.

Deschamps said Kolo Muani could improve his efficiency when he plays with his back to the goal, but praised the versatility that gives him the possibility to move from his position in the middle of the attack and switch roles with Mbappe down the wing.

Kolo Muani was a late addition to France's World Cup squad last year as a last-minute replacement for the injured Christopher Nkunku.

He scored a goal against Morocco in the semifinals and came close to becoming a national hero in the final. With 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining in extra time, Kolo Muani went clean through on Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez but his opponent stuck out his left leg to keep the ball out. France then lost in a penalty shootout.

“Kolo was not far from being more than decisive,” Deschamps said. “And then, there was his transfer to Paris after he had a very, very good season in Germany. He needs to digest that, too, but the demands are much higher where he is now. He has great potential, but he needs time.”

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