“Don’t worry about Mbappé, you’ve signed a war machine”

Jerome Rothen (Châtenay-Malabry, 1978) No title is saved. He was a player of the PSG and Monaco, among others, international with France, and is now one of the most listened to voices in the Gallic country in Radio Monte Carlo, with his program Rothem s’enflamme (Rothen lights up) where his opinions on PSG, Mbappe or the game of France Deschamps have not left anyone indifferent. He spoke to MARCA in view of the France-Portugal quarterfinalsbut he also talks about Kylian’s tortuous departure from PSG and his arrival at Madrid. Although he is not giving his best in Germany for now, Rothen makes it clear that the Madridistas have nothing to worry about. And he talks about the team he likes the most at this Euro: Spain.

QUESTION: How do you see France-Portugal?

ANSWER: My impression is that they have been more consistent in their approach than we have been since the start of the tournament. Also because of the group we have. The problem is that since the selection of the group that Deschamps must take over, there are many who are there to be substitutes and that makes it difficult to find alternatives. And another problem is that you have not counted on all the best and those you have to change lack confidence. Changes are complicated like that. On the other hand, in any case we have very good players, not great, but very good, and most of them are on the bench, with the quality they have, you understand why they do not play very well.

Q. And who do you miss?

A. It’s more about consistency. We won the World Cup with a good defence, which exploited the speed of its players and especially Mbappé, the same in Qatar, that’s not the problem. We can play like that. The thing is that when we have a team that doesn’t push us back, there’s no other plan. Look at Spain, they create chances, they play football, passing, depth, acceleration, running away. We’re talking about players like Coman, Barcola, Mbappé, forwards like Kolo Muani, Giroud, I think we have the right to expect something else from France. Compared to previous competitions, I think we lack knowledge of what we’re playing for.

Q. How do you see Mbappé?

A. He’s coming off a difficult year with PSG, even though he scored 44 goals, which is a lot. But he lacks the continuity he’s seen in other years. He’s not playing to his strengths either, and he lacks other facets of the game. One day he’s on one side, another day he’s more free, but no matter how good he is, when you change his system and position, he asks questions. It also depends on how you surround him. If you put more defensive players around him in midfield, who play less on foot, the balls won’t reach him as they should.

Q. What did you think of your end at PSG?

A. Both have their responsibilities. He is someone I appreciate and I have always defended him, he is an outstanding player, but in the last few months there have been things that I have not liked. Personal things should be left aside, resentment aside, I have not seen a player in the semi-finals who was giving his all to help the team, on the contrary, he has not been very exemplary. PSG cannot treat a player like him like that either, after what he has given, the support you have given them every year, each one has wanted to show their strength and I think that none of them has come out on top. So we are seeing an average Mbappé, but don’t worry, in Spain you will see a great Mbappé.

Q. Do you think you will adapt to Real Madrid and win the Ballon d’Or?

A. He will have other teammates who can also win, like Vinicius and Bellingham. But he is coming to a club that is a winning machine, everything is set up for him to succeed. He will score a lot of goals and do them very well. I think Kylian will be well-established, with the best players at his side, with a team that he dominates. They also have a leader who is surely the best coach in the world, so I think he will adapt very quickly and make history at Madrid. Frankly, you have signed a war machine. We know that very well and what I want is for a Frenchman to make history at Madrid like Zidane or Benzema did.

P. Rabiot is out, do you see Camavinga in the starting eleven against Portugal or the return of Dembélé?

A. The truth is that I don’t see Dembélé because he would be a very offensive bet for Deschamps. Camavinga is a possibility, he has already come off the bench in two games, the only problem is that Eduardo’s last substitute against Poland was very bad. So I don’t know if he will go for Fofana who is more defensive. I don’t know, but unfortunately I sense once again an ultra-defensive eleven.

Q. Do you think Cristiano is capable of defeating France?

A. If there is one player I am not going to criticise, it is Cristiano, an example of rigour, of work, of professionalism. He can miss a penalty like the last day, not play very well, but he is Cristiano. I think he is capable of beating France, what a player will tell you otherwise, with the goals he scores. In a match he can do it. We will have to keep an eye on him, but we have a great defence, there is no doubt about that in France. Saliba and Upamecano… Look at Koundé, he is really doing very well now, and there is a great goalkeeper. In that we have to trust Deschamps once again.

Q. So do you see France vs. Spain in the semi-finals? Who is better at it?

A. As for football, I hope Spain goes far. They deserve to win the Euro. They are a team that I identify with because of their approach to the game: possession, technique, acceleration… The truth is that they deserve to go far. They have Germany, it’s not easy, but they can win.

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