Ronaldinho says Mbappe could win Ballon d’Or with PSG

PARIS (Agencies): Star French striker Kylian Mbappe can win the Ballon d’Or in “any team”, Ronaldinho told AFP Sunday, but the Brazilian would like him to win it with Paris Saint-Germain, “a big club”.

“A great player like him can have the opportunity to win the Ballon d’Or in any team, but as I love PSG, I would like him to do it with PSG,” the 2002 World Champion said. “I hope he will win it. He is a good friend and a very great player. I like his style of play,” he said during an interview with AFP in Thailand.

The prestigious award still eludes the French captain, who finished this year in third place — his best ranking to date. “Winning the big competitions will help him a lot,” said Ronaldinho, who wore No.10 for PSG from 2001 to 2003. “PSG is a great club,” the Brazilian said during a visit to Bangkok as an ambassador for Teqball, a novelty sport combining football and table tennis. Next year promises to be both busy and potentially uncertain for Mbappe.

The 24-year-old could see a possible run to the finals of the Champions League, as well as the Euro 2024 with PSG. “As every year, it is very difficult (to win the Champions League). But PSG has a great coach, very great players, and therefore, everything is possible,” the former Barcelona and Milan player said. But Paris coach Luis Enrique — under whom Ronaldinho played for a season at Barca in 2003 and 2004 — is a “very good coach.”

“As a player, he was very strong. I saw what he accomplished. I hope things go very well for him,” he said. Mbappe also has to negotiate an uncertain contract, which could see his departure from Paris in June. Real Madrid, which has been courting him for several years, appears best placed to attract him.

Mbappe and Vitinha give 10-men PSG hard fought win at Le Havre

PARIS (AFP): Paris Saint-Germain ground out a tense 2-0 victory away to Le Havre on Sunday courtesy of strikes by Kylian Mbappe and Vitinha, after ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saw red early on. Despite the two-goal win, PSG had to show great resilience to keep the hosts at bay and move four points clear of second-placed Nice in the table.

After going down to 10 men in the 10th minute, a fine Mbappe goal, his 15th in the league this season, gave the embattled visitors the lead, but the points were only wrapped up right at the end when Portuguese midfielder Vitinha doubled the score with one minute remaining of normal time.

Le Havre started brightly and won a series of early corners, one of which forced the visitors into a change when Fabian Ruiz injured his right shoulder defending a set-piece.

However, it was a long ball that finally broke down the Parisian defence as a clearance was not dealt with by Nordi Mukiele, allowing Josue Casimir to nip in before being abruptly halted by Donnarumma.

The Italian’s desperate attempt to clear the ball resulted in him catching the Le Havre man very high on the shoulder outside the box and the referee was left with little choice but to brandish a red card.

Despite their numerical disadvantage and the loss of attacker Bradley Barcola, sacrificed for ‘keeper Arnau Tenas, it was PSG who opened the scoring.

Ousmane Dembele drilled a pass into his captain’s feet and Mbappe’s first touch took him inside the defender and with a yard of space he wrong-footed the goalie from inside the D, scoring via the post.

Chances came at both ends just prior to the hour mark with Mohamed Bayo shooting tamely at Tenas from a promising position, before Dembele fired across goal with the ball brushing against the far post.

The hosts began to press and only a fine save by Tenas in the 64th minute and a vital sliding interception by Danilo Pereira three minutes later kept PSG’s lead intact.

But it was Dembele and PSG that had the best chance to score the second goal of the match in the 70th minute, however a retreating Christopher Operi managed to foil the winger.

Tenas then came to the league leaders rescue again with an excellent double save at his near post from Nabil Alioui with 12 minutes remaining.

Victory was finally assured in the 89th minute when a PSG foray into Le Havre territory led to Vitinha trying his luck from distance, with a large deflection causing the ball to loop over the helpless goalkeeper.