Kylian Mbappe’s No.7 shirt is usually in demand after matches, but the Paris Saint-Germain striker was spotted asking to swap shirts with Barcelona teenager Pedri after Wednesday’s Champions League clash between the two sides.
The World Cup winner scored the opening goal in the 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes as the French champions went through to the quarter-finals of the competition with a 5-2 aggregate win.
Television cameras captured Mbappe after the match going up to 18-year-old Pedri, who had been substituted late on, and asking for his Barcelona shirt.
Pedri admitted after the game the two players discussed the swap during the match, as reported by Get Spanish Football News.
The gesture shows just how much of an impact Pedri has made in his brief time at Barcelona. The midfielder only arrived from Las Palmas in the summer but has already made himself a permanent fixture in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI.
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Pique Sends Message to Barcelona After Exit
Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League at the last-16 stage will be a blow but the manner of the team’s performance against PSG offers hope for the future.
Ronald Koeman’s side created enough chances to have turned the tie around, saw Lionel Messi miss a penalty and can reflect on a graceful exit from Europe’s top competition after humilating losses to Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Roma in the last three seasons.
Center-back Gerard Pique, who missed the tie because of a knee injury, sent a message of support to his team-mates after the match. He wrote on Twitter, “What a fantastic match. To play that well deserves huge merit after the first-leg result. I’m proud of my team and my team-mates. There’s lots left to compete for this season and we’ll continue to do so until the end. Heads high and let’s continue this way. Come on!”
Barcelona remains in contention for silverware in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. The team is six points behind Atletico Madrid in Spain’s top flight and take on Athletic Club in the final of the Copa del Rey in April.
Koeman Can’t Fault His Players
Coach Koeman was also proud of his players’ performance after the full-time whistle at the Parc des Princes. The Dutch coach praised his team’s effort and felt they had deserved more from the game, as reported by Marca.
“We are eliminated, which is what counts in this sport. But with good feelings. We had chances to make things difficult for our rival,” he said. “We were superior in the first half. We deserved something more. At least 1-2. With that result the second half would have been different.”
Koeman also rued his side’s lack of killer instinct in front of goal and felt that PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was kept busy by Barca throughout the game, had been the man of the match.
“They had the effectiveness in the first leg and we did not here. They scored four and we scored one. That is the big difference,” he added. “The lack of success cannot be criticized. The team made a huge effort. We lacked some luck in some plays. Their goalkeeper was the best on the field. We had opportunities but we did not take advantage of them.”
The result sees PSG join Porto, Liverpool, and Borussia Dortmund safely into the quarter-finals. The remaining ties take place next week with the quarter-final draw scheduled for Friday, March 19.