France’s forward Kylian Mbappe gives a press conference at the team’s training grounds in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, southwest of Paris, on June 13, 2021, during the UEFA EURO 2020 European Football Championship. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
Kylian Mbappe admitted he was “affected” by public comments perceived as criticism from fellow forward Olivier Giroud following a friendly against Bulgaria, but insisted he did not want it to become a distraction for France at Euro 2020.
Tensions surfaced between the two players after Chelsea striker Giroud complained about not receiving the ball often enough during Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Bulgaria, in which he scored twice.
“I was a bit affected by that but we’re not going to make a big story about it,” Mbappe told reporters Sunday at the national training centre at Clairefontaine.
“We’re here to represent France and the national team represents the most important thing. We have a big competition and these trivial things aren’t going to disrupt our preparation.”
Mbappe, the leading scorer in Ligue 1 last season with 27 goals, revealed he had wanted to address the matter earlier in the week but was dissuaded from doing so by France coach Didier Deschamps.
“I wanted to come Thursday (to the press conference) to explain myself. After speaking with the coach, it wasn’t the best moment,” said the 22-year-old.
“He decided the best time was today, so I did as I was told and came today.”
The Paris Saint-Germain star claimed it wasn’t what Giroud said that bothered him, but the public nature of his remarks.
“I saw him in the dressing room, I went to congratulate him on his goals. He didn’t say anything to me and then I learned about it in the media.
“I would have preferred that he come and even be much more scathing about it. In the dressing room if I have something to say to someone I will tell them and it stays there, I don’t have a problem.”
But Mbappe sought to draw a line under the brewing feud ahead of France’s tournament opener against Germany in Munich on Tuesday.
“I don’t want that to disturb the team. We will already have very difficult tests, we don’t need to make things even harder.”
Giroud, 34, is France’s second highest scorer of all time, his 46 goals second only to Thierry Henry (51).
The world champions have a wealth of attacking options though with the return of Karim Benzema to the squad following a five-and-a-half year exile, and Antoine Griezmann also in the squad.
Les Bleus take on Hungary in Budapest in their second match in Group F and then face defending champions Portugal at the Puskas Arena on June 19 in a repeat of the 2016 final.