Christophe Galtier believes that Kylian Mbappe didn’t decide to stay at Paris Saint-Germain because of the lucrative deal that the Ligue 1 club offered him in order to renew his contract.
The Frenchman turned down Real Madrid‘s offer back in May and stayed put at PSG, with Galtier maintaining that he made his decision due to his affection for the Ligue 1 champions.
In an interview with MARCA, Galtier also discussed Lionel Messi‘s future, his way of managing the team’s stars and whether Mbappe is happy at PSG.
Question. No defeats in 21 games for PSG. Is that more than you expected?
Answer: That’s 22! We also won the Trophee des Champions – equivalent to the Supercopa de Espana. No. When you are the coach of PSG you have to have that ambition, always with a lot of humility, but I am at a club with players of a very high level and there is that obligation of getting results. I quickly saw the potential of the group and the determination of my players to have a great first half of the season. But it is not by chance. It is the result of hard work and performance of my technical and medical staff and, of course, of my players.
Q. In these 22 games you have scored 59 goals and conceded 16, seven of which in the Champions League. Is this where you need to work more, not conceding so many in the Champions League?
A. The squad I have at my disposal has a very attacking character. And my reflection is the following: we must score goals. PSG are an international showcase with world-class players and the first thought I had when I arrived was to create an atmosphere where the player feels he can score goals.
We have conceded too many in the Champions League. Obviously, there is a difference in level between the Champions League and our league. But if we want to go far in the Champions League we must improve our defense.
Q. Sometimes we journalists and fans take qualification from group stage for granted for certain teams and it may seem that it was easy for PSG to be in the Champions League last-16, but if someone considers it unimportant, you can ask Juventus, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona what they think…
A. When the Champions League draw was made, we were in a group. I was the new coach of PSG and I looked at the club’s record in recent years in the competition. My first objective was to do at least as well as my predecessors. And that became an obsession.
Obviously, fans and the press think it’s normal. Juventus, Benfica and Maccabi Haifa. It seemed easy. But it wasn’t. Nothing is easy in the Champions League. Moreover, no one in the analysis has taken into account the difficulty of the calendar this season. It is the first time in the history of football with such a compact and difficult calendar. There were Champions League matches practically every week. I think this is why some teams that would normally go through the group stage have not done so. We have played in three and a half months what we normally played in four or five months.
Q. Which of these teams surprised you the most when they were eliminated?
A. Juve, Atletico and Barcelona always qualify and it was a big surprise. It shows that football is not an exact science. And this kind of thing happens for the spectacle, for the suspense, for the fans.
Q. Which team do you think were the best in the group stage?
A. Napoli and Bayern Munich. They have had an incredible run.
Q. Let’s talk about Galtier’s style of play, how does he like his team to play and how has it evolved from St-Etienne through Lille, Nice and now at PSG? Does he have just one style or does he change it depending on the team he coaches?
A. Two parallel reflections. The first is that I was an assistant coach for 11 years. When I made my debut as head coach at St-Etienne, the situation was very difficult. My team were conceding a lot of goals and I had to make a team difficult to beat. As the games and the season went on, I had another thought: now that we have found defensive stability, how do I get the team to improve their attacking contribution? Because people come to the stadium to see goals. Football is a spectacle and people watch television to experience emotions. Those emotions come from goals.
I experienced a great evolution when I started working with Luis Campos [at Lille]. The first six months were very difficult because the team was in a very bad position. But when we started our second season together, the idea was to have great defensive stability, but also to have an attractive attacking game that involved playing forwards, always forwards. I’m convinced that my time at Lille, with my constant exchanges of opinion with Luis Campos and a new working methodology with an international staff, made me open up a lot in terms of the game we had to play so that, while my players and my supporters enjoyed our team, we would also be appreciated in the league.
Q. Tactics are very important, but a coach from Spain told me one day that he doesn’t just train players. He trains wills.
A. Coaches give through their staff the dynamics and the drive, and it’s important for the players to feel that. They act as a locomotive. My obsession is that they really enjoy training. Not to have fun, but to play with gusto, with joy.
Q. And even more so in this team, which is not normal because it has Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar, who are three players in the top five or six in the world… [Galtier interrupts the question, raises his tone, raises his index finger and adds.]
A. They are four of the best in the world! Sergio Ramos is there too. His record speaks for him. Although it’s true that we usually talk about the three fantastic ones.
Q. So how important are tactics and emotional intelligence for a coach?
A. It’s difficult to answer with percentages. When you arrive at PSG and you are a French coach without a great international track record, you have to earn legitimacy very quickly. This legitimacy is based on two aspects: the first is what you are going to bring on a tactical level, and you must not make mistakes in what you propose because you have players with very high tactical knowledge. The second aspect is the human relationship with the group. There are eight or nine players of a very, very high level, not just four.
Let me give you an example. I have relied a lot on television. Nowadays, there are a lot of reports about players on the different platforms. I have relied on these reports to get to know them better. For example with Mbappe. I knew Kylian through the French League, from playing against him, from watching his matches. But there is the player and there is the man. If you know the player and forget the man, it’s not going to work. The whole world knows Messi, Neymar and Ramos as players. But to save time I spent time watching documentaries about them to know what the man is like, how he lives, his history, how he has grown, his trajectory and how he has become an international star.
Q. When you were first approached about the possibility of coaching PSG, I’m sure you said: Fantastic! But you probably asked yourself this question: Am I ready to coach a team with four of the best players in the world?
A. The first conversation was with Luis Campos. We share the same working values about how a club should be. We define and defend a project.
When Luis told me about this possibility [smiles] I said to myself: ‘Uff. That’s fantastic.’ We talked for five or six minutes, no more, I think he wanted this conversation not to be long. When I hung up, I put the airplane mode on, looked for my wife and told her: ‘Amore, come here, we need to talk’. I talked to my wife and she only asked me one question: ‘Do you feel strong enough to accept this challenge?’ I answered her that I didn’t know if I was strong enough to accept it, but if I didn’t accept it, I should withdraw. Because having this opportunity to coach this great club with these players comes once in a lifetime. The next thing he said to me was, ‘Are you aware that your life is going to change?’ I hadn’t thought about it, but it has changed.
Q. It looked as though Zidane was going to be the one chosen to coach PSG, but it was you. I don’t know if this is more pressure or more honor, but why do you think Luis Campos chose you to be PSG coach?
A. It is the president who chose me. With the suggestion and advice of Luis Campos, of course. I know that my arrival at PSG coincided with that of Luis. For a club to be successful, I think there must always be a good relationship between three people: the president, his sports advisor and the coach. It is essential. I believe that with Luis we are each in our own area of competence, but that we are both free to exchange and share opinions.
Q. It may seem a privilege to have Messi, Mbappe and Neymar, but it must really be difficult to make a competitive team and fit the three of them in together to win, for example, against Bayern, which is different from winning in Ligue 1. Can you win the Champions League when these three great players are not used to defending?
A. To begin with, it is a privilege to have these three players because at every moment they can make the difference. There is what happens in Ligue 1 and what happens in the Champions League. As soon as I have these three world-class players at my disposal, it’s up to me, and only me, to organize the team so that we can maintain this attacking power while having the right balance defensively.
And then there will be the story of each match. Depending on the result, it will be my responsibility to make decisions, but we have more chances to score goals and win with these three fantastic players. We will have to take into account their form, because we will be playing Bayern in three months’ time. There will be scenarios during the match and my responsibility will be to have the most competitive team on the pitch.
Q. You are happy with Messi’s performance, is it possible that we would see something different from his before and after the World Cup?
A. We can’t know, why should I think that? Would that mean they have been preparing only for the World Cup? I can’t think that. They have been preparing to be good at the start of the season with PSG. I don’t think Messi will have a different motivation after the World Cup.
Q. What will Messi staying at PSG next season depend on?
A. There are many parameters. The first is his desire. Does he want to continue at PSG? Is he happy here? The first thing to know is whether he wants to continue.
Q. Has Messi said anything to you about his plan?
A. All these types of decisions are made between the player and Luis Campos.
Q. It is official and public that Kylian has a contract until 2024 with an optional year. What are, in your opinion as a coach, the keys to keep him happy at PSG so he doesn’t explore the possibility of going to Real Madrid?
A. It’s the same situation as Leo. When a player is happy somewhere he has no reason to leave. To be happy you have to enjoy. From the moment that the player enjoys on the field and that he feels that he is in a team that can win, he has no reason to leave.
Q. PSG won a battle this summer against Real Madrid, what do you think was the key to Kylian’s decision to renew at PSG? Everyone says money?
A. I don’t think it was the money. Because world-class players whether in Spain, England or France earn it. They are not for the money. I think Kylian simply loves PSG.
Q. Do you feel Kylian is happy at PSG?
A. Yes, for sure. Guaranteed.
Q. Would you bet your house that Kylian will be at PSG next season?
A. Which one? [laughs]. I ask you another question: If he is happy, why shouldn’t Kylian be here next season?
Q. When you arrived at PSG, two of the most expensive players in the world play in the same position. The club has some Fair Play limits and it has not been possible to sign a striker and a defender. That’s why Kylian has had to play in a different position. Have you had to find different solutions?
A. My job is to provide solutions. We have the same attacking players as last season. Ney, Leo, Kylian? I wanted to position them differently, always the three together with a different system. The 5-2-3 has been the formation for these two months. Then fatigue set in and I looked for other solutions.
Read the full article here