NIZHNY NOVGOROD – France's teenage star Kylian Mbappe is on a steep learning curve but dealing comfortably with the intense spotlight that his World Cup performances have brought, coach Didier Deschamps said on Thursday.
The 19-year-old might have already attracted plenty of publicity after his move from Monaco to Paris St Germain last year, but two scintillating goals for France in Russia last weekend have him now being compared with Pele.
He has followed in the footsteps of the game's most famous name by becoming only the second teenager to score twice in a match at the finals, as his pace and guile cracked open Argentina in Kazan last Saturday and delivered France to the quarter-finals.
“What he did against Argentina was very good. It put a spotlight on him obviously, and to play like that in such an important match made a name for him,” Deschamps said ahead of Friday’s quarter-final against Uruguay.
“He's had time to digest this and I think he's recovered just like the rest of the team. We've all had a few days to recover. On Sunday and Monday we savoured the victory, and from Tuesday we started focusing again. This is how top level sport is.
“But we must not now relax and think that everything is easy, that life is beautiful and that less effort is needed. But Kylian is smart, he's listening and he knows all that.
“He's only 19 but he's gone from Monaco to PSG where the demands have been different, and now at the World Cup they are even higher,” he said.
“Despite all the good things he's doing, he's only learning. That's only natural. All players, regardless of their talent, at that age are learning,” added the French coach.
Deschamps warned his players would need patience in their efforts to break down a stubborn Uruguay.
“It's a team with a very different profile to Argentina, extremely well-organised in defence and then very dangerous on the counter attacks. We'll have to be really patient.”
Friday's match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is the first of the four quarter-final ties on Friday and Saturday.