April 22, 2021

Wenger backs PSG star Mbappe to be fit for Champions League clash with Atalanta

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The legendary French manager is confident that his fellow countryman will return to action in time for the resumption of European football

Arsene Wenger has backed Kylian Mbappe to be fit for Paris Saint-Germain‘s Champions League clash with Atalanta.

Mbappe was forced off during PSG’s Coupe de France final win against Saint-Etienne last Friday with an ankle sprain, leaving the club sweating over his availability for their upcoming quarter final.

Thomas Tuchel’s side will take on Atalanta on August 12 in a straight knockout tie in Lisbon, with the original two-legged format shelved in favour of a revised tournament on neutral ground amid the coronavirus crisis.

PSG are among the favourites to win this year’s competition after being handed a favourable draw, with a semi-final tie against either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid awaiting if they can overcome Italian opposition in Portugal.

Mbappe has hit 30 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions for the Ligue 1 champions this season, but Tuchel has admitted it would be a “miracle” if the key performer recovers in time to face Atalanta.

However, PSG midfielder Ander Herrera is more optimistic about his team-mate’s chances of featuring, as he told reporters following the penalty shoot-out victory over Saint-Etienne: “Kylian is very important and I’m sure he will try to play.”

Wenger has echoed Herrera’s comments, expressing his belief that the World Cup winner will do everything possible to make sure he is back on the pitch in top physical condition.

“I saw what happened to him. I think he will play, and I think he is convinced of that too,” the legendary former Arsenal manager told Europe 1. “Something tells me that and I am used to watching top athletes when they are really seriously injured.

“I think that there is a form of confidence, by observing it well. I am practically sure that he will play against Atalanta. Mbappe, I believe in him enormously.”

PSG saw off Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 to reach the final eight, beating the German giants 3-2 on aggregate before the Covid-19 crisis stopped play in March. Neymar scored decisive goals in both legs, and he will be expected to step up to the plate again if Mbappe is unable to lead the line.

Atalanta, meanwhile, beat Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in a thrilling first knockout stage encounter to set up a meeting with PSG, before going on to earn a third-place finish in Serie A.