Kylian Mbappe back in PSG squad vs Rennes Lassana Diarra could debut soon
PARIS — Kylian Mbappe is back in the Paris Saint-Germain squad and could feature in the Coupe de la Ligue semifinal away at Rennes on Tuesday after missing the Coupe de France round of 32 home win over Guingamp and the Ligue 1 victory over Montpellier at Parc des Princes last week.
The France international is joined in Unai Emery’s 18-man squad for the trip to Roazhon Park by recent signing Lassana Diarra, who is included in the group for the first time since signing for the French capital outfit.
Mbappe was taken off during the first half of PSG’s 2-1 loss away at Lyon in Le Championnat recently after colliding with OL goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, and had to undergo tests to determine the extent of the damage before he could return to training and, finally, competitive action.
The 19-year-old has been keen to play since before the Guingamp win, but Emery waited until medical staff indicated it was safe for the former Monaco man to return.
That has now happened, so Mbappe is in contention to return to the starting XI in Brittany as Les Parisiens seek a fifth consecutive Coupe de la Ligue final berth and a record eighth overall.
Speaking at his prematch news conference on Monday, Emery stated that the No. 29 could return at any time once given the thumbs-up by the medical team, but suggested that Diarra would not feature against Rennes.
“Lassana is training hard,” the Spaniard told journalists at Camp des Loges. “He must improve physically and also train with his new teammates.”
However, the Frenchman appears to have convinced Emery of his fitness and could now make his debut this week.
“Certain players are carrying a few little niggles after the Montpellier match,” added the Basque tactician. “We will see how they feel.”
Captain Thiago Silva is one of those figures. And although his knock is “not serious,” Emery has taken no chances and left the skipper out, likewise with Julian Draxler, who was also substituted during the win over Montpellier.
Right-back Dani Alves remains suspended, so Thomas Meunier should deputise. And Thiago Motta is still not fit enough to return to action after picking up an injury in Rennes at the start of the year during a Coupe de France round-of-64 match.
“Thiago [Motta] is unavailable and still working with the fitness staff,” Emery said. “Marco [Verratti] has a knock, which is why he did not play against Guingamp and was on the bench last Saturday [Montpellier].”
“Everyone else is fine — I hope to put out a competitive team.”
Verratti’s partner has also given birth to the couple’s second child recently. But despite the new arrival, the Italy international is included in the travelling party.
Elsewhere, Lucas Moura has been left out once again as a move to Tottenham Hotspur inches closer, while Hatem Ben Arfa — unsurprisingly — remains ignored by Emery.
Youth academy graduate Alec Georgen is expected to join AZ Alkmaar on loan before the transfer window closes. And third-choice goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois has not made the cut for the Rennes clash.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.