Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe takes centre stage on Friday as the French league returns from the international break with Paris Saint-Germain taking on Metz where they will unleash their latest marquee recruit.
The 18-year-old starlet joined PSG on a season-long loan from champions Monaco in a deal that includes the option to buy Mbappe for a fee rising to 180 million euros ($215 million), the second most expensive transfer in history.
“It’s a great pleasure to join this club, it’s one of the best in the world,” Mbappe said as he was unveiled at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
“It’s extremely ambitious and wants to become the best.
“It’s putting everything in place to make that goal more than possible and that’s important to me.”
The France international is set to make his PSG debut away at rock-bottom Metz on Friday with Unai Emery’s side chasing a fifth successive win to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Metz are the only team without a point in Ligue 1 this term and need no introduction to Mbappe who scored a hat-trick against them in a 5-0 Monaco victory last February.
Emery confirmed Mbappe was ready for selection, and an injury to Angel Di Maria while on World Cup duty with Argentina could prompt the Spaniard to thrust the teenager into a fearsome front three alongside world-record signing Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
“These are players who for the most part have won everything already, it’s going to be a rewarding experience,” Mbappe said of his new team-mates. “I have a lot to learn and a lot to prove.”
Di Maria is set to miss several weeks with a thigh problem, while Italian midfielder Marco Verratti remains suspended with several of PSG’s South American contingent only expected back on Thursday.
– Falcao on fire –
Monaco, level with PSG at the top, will attempt to extend their record 16-match winning run away to Cote d’Azur rivals Nice, whose third-place finish last season is swiftly fading from memory.
The title holders raided Serie A to draft in Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic and Senegal forward Keita Balde from Inter Milan and Lazio respectively to try and fill the void left by Mbappe.
Monaco also have an in-form Radamel Falcao to call upon, the Colombian has scored a league-leading seven times in four outings and earned his country a vital World Cup qualifying point in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Brazil.
Nice have lost three times already this season, only once less than all of the 2016-17 campaign, and were trounced 3-0 by top-flight newcomers Amiens last time out.
Unbeaten Bordeaux face Marcelo Bielsa’s Lille on Friday, while Lyon host Guingamp on Sunday with consecutive draws having somewhat stalled their early-season charge.
Greece international Kostas Mitroglou will have to wait for his Marseille debut as he is still a fortnight away from a return from a thigh strain picked up in pre-season with former club Benfica.
Marseille were dealt a harsh reality check with a 6-1 thrashing by Monaco in their previous match and will look to regain momentum when Rennes visit the Stade Velodrome.
Saint-Etienne, third in the table, entertain Angers as Oscar Garcia’s side look to rebound from their 3-0 defeat at PSG before the pause for international matches.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Lille v Bordeaux (1700), Metz v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)
Nice v Monaco (1500), Caen v Dijon, Montpellier v Nantes, Strasbourg v Amiens, Troyes v Toulouse (all 1800)
Saint-Etienne v Angers (1300), Lyon v Guingamp (1500), Marseille v Rennes (1900)
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