Jan 17, 2024, 07:17 AM ET
Kylian Mbappé said European football’s increasingly busy schedule is beginning to mirror the NBA season, and he warned of the effects of basketball-style load management.
In an interview with British GQ, Mbappé said such practices could create a wedge between players, teams and supporters who attend games. The France captain played 63 times in the 2022-23 season for Paris Saint-Germain and the national team.
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“We’re getting closer to the NBA model, with seasons of 70 games,” Mbappé said. “Personally, I’m not against playing that many matches, but we won’t be able to be good every time and give the public the spectacle they expect.
“In the NBA, players don’t play every game and franchises practise load management. But if I said: ‘I’m tired, I’m not playing on Saturday,’ it wouldn’t go down well.
“The spectator who pays for his ticket, and who may only see you once during the season, wants to see a performance worthy of the name, and that’s understandable.
Mbappé was one of several soccer stars to attend the NBA Paris game last week. Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images
“I don’t want to preach, but we need to think together about how to offer the best possible solution so that players, spectators and football’s governing bodies can all embrace it.”
Mbappé also discussed his admiration for LeBron James’ off-court work, having spoken with the Los Angeles Lakers star at a Nike campaign.
“He is much farther along in his career than I am, and projects outside of sport have cemented his place as a sporting legend,” Mbappé said.
“Being able to ask for advice from inspiring figures like him provides an opportunity to adjust my plan and create my own approach that is as effective as possible in terms of helping young people today.”
Mbappé has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid. A source close to the 14-time Champions League winners told ESPN some players in the squad think he will play for Los Blancos next season.
However, the 25-year-old remained coy on his own future, not ruling out playing club football outside Europe at some stage of his career — as was the case with former PSG teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar. They now play for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer and Al Hilal in the lucrative Saudi Pro League, respectively.
“Many great players who have shaped the history of football have left Europe this summer, and we are entering a new era,” Mbappé said.
“It’s become part of the cycle of this sport, and at some point it will be my turn to leave. I’m not worried about these changes. I’m simply thinking about continuing my career and following my own path.”