Kylian Mbappe opens up on “freedom” that deals blow to Real Madrid star Karim Benzema

With France spoiled for choice up front ahead of the World Cup, Kylian Mbappe’s comments about Olivier Giroud could worry Karim Benzema.

With Benzema injured AC Milan striker Giroud started alongside Mbappe on Thursday as France took on Austria in the UEFA Nations League, with Antoine Griezmann also in the starting XI. Both found the net in the 2-0 win, and Mbappe has spoken of the freedom offered to him by the former Arsenal and Chelsea star.

Benzema remains one of the front-runners for the Ballon d’Or, having helped Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League last season. However, as Giroud closes in on Thierry Henry’s international goal record for Les Bleus, things are far from settled at international level.

“I have a lot more freedom here,” Mbappe said, as translated by talkSPORT. “The coach knows that there is a number nine like Olivier who occupies the defence.

“Me, I can walk around, go into space, ask for balls… In Paris, there isn’t that, it’s different, I’m asked to do the pivot. I’m very happy with today’s game.”

At Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe has a different role to play with the team lacking a Giroud-style centre-forward. The 23-year-old has still thrived at the Parc des Princes, scoring freely this term, but his responsibilities are not the same.

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Giroud and Mbappe started together for France against Austria

Giroud and Mbappe started together for France against Austria
AFP via Getty Images)

Mbappe, who plays with the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi at club level, was pleased with the “great” chemistry he had with Giroud and Griezmann. “He [Griezmann] was higher up the field, we were able to look without being cut off from the rest of the team,” the PSG man continued.

“We are very happy, now we have to confirm [avoiding Nations League relegation]. There is Karim who will also come back, we will see how it will go. Olivier Giroud did us a favour again today and I hope he will do it on Sunday too.”

Giroud’s goal against Austria was his 49th for Les Bleus, moving him seven clear of Griezmann and just two behind all-time leader Henry. It also made the 35-year-old France’s oldest ever goalscorer, breaking a record set by Roger Marche all the way back in 1959.

The veteran has a chance to move closer to Henry’s tally on Sunday when France take on Denmark in their final Nations League fixture. Victory for the World Cup holders would ensure they avoid relegation, but their opponents still have a chance to make the Nations League finals if they win and Croatia drop points in Austria.

France will begin their World Cup title defence against Australia on November 22. Didier Deschamps’ side started against the same opponents four years ago, recording a narrow win before getting into their stride later in the tournament.

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