Ikoné launches Mbappé defence
LOSC Lille's Jonathan Ikoné has launched a defence of his close friend Kylian Mbappé in the aftermath of the Paris Saint-Germain striker's public demand for "more responsibility".
Mbappé's bombshell announcement at Sunday's UNFP awards as he picked up the Player of the Year award sent shockwaves through French football, and led PSG to insist their star French forward will be at the club next season.
Ikoné played with the FIFA World Cup winner in the Paris suburbs at AS Bondy before their careers went in different directions, but have remained close, and the Lille man is dismayed at the reaction to his friend's declaration.
"Kylian is respectful. Some people have a tendency to forget that at the moment. He's been criticised too much since, sometimes he's been 'assassinated' on social media," said Ikoné. "I know him well, his values, his family too, and I'm very proud to be his friend."
At 20, Mbappé is still eligible for France's Under-21 side, but he will be absent when Ikoné tries to help Les Bleuets win the U21 EURO in Italy and San Marino this summer.
"I'm there to help the team and give everything, but I don't have a specific role," said the 21-year-old, who has three goals and eight assists in 37 league games this season. "I will have one, but I'll only know it in the first few matches. In any case, I intend to contribute the same thing as at Lille."