Presnel Kimpembe, the youngster grown up
As he prepares to return to the training pitch with the rest of the first team, we look back on Presnel Kimpembe's recent times with Paris Saint-Germain.
It was one year after he was crowned on the world stage in Russia and after an exhausting season, that Presnel Kimpembe took his first steps in the 2019-2020 season. But there would be a little wait before the Frenchman could return to action with his teammates, as he recovered from injury during the tour of China, the Trophée des Champions, and then missed the first two league encounters.
But Kimpembe is one of those hungry players who puts in everything he can in order to get back out onto the pitch as soon as possible. Incredibly focused on his own preparation, the defender was quickly back in training, and subsequently back in Thomas Tuchel's starting eleven.
"I feel like he used that injury between the two seasons to take a giant leap forward. He didn't have a holiday, he worked all summer in order to recover and then in his rehab. He was incredibly fit for the first match against Real and since this match, he has maintained that level. He is very strong, he is very agressive and very reliable", explained the coach in his press conference.
It's simple, the man who played 24 matches this season was never substituted by the German coach. Determined, robust in his duels and ready to push up the pitch, the n°5 became the Parisian's first launching pad. Playing alongside Marquinhos or Thiago Silva in 7 of the 8 European matches this season (a knock prevented him from playing in the 8th), the youngster is now immovable from the coach's plans.
The defender also boasts excellent statistics from this last campaign: 94% pass completion, 69% of his duels won, 67% successful tackles, and more than 6 recoveries per match on average across all competitions. In total, Kimpembe recovered the ball on more than 177 occasions this season... He is therefore the player with the best ball recovery-ball lost difference in the top five leagues in 2019-20 (117-67, +50).
Just in Ligue 1, Presnel Kimpembe is the second tidiest defender in the league of those making more than 500 passes, with no less than 95% pass completion... Only a certain Thiago Silva could slightly top that (95.5%).
This season, several encounters have brought to light the quality of the man born in Beaumont-sur-Oise. Against Galatasaray last October, he won 17 duels, a record for a Paris defender in a Champions League match since Opta began analysing the competition (2003/04). A figure that also brings back memories of his performance against Red Star Belgrade one year earlier, when he made 17 recoveries... And no defender has beaten that feat in a European match analysed by Opta.
With no less than 136 professional matches already under his belt, and now having won a 5th league title with Paris Saint-Germain, Kimpembe is slowly earning his place in the club's history books. On the tips of his boots, but with character.
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He also shows, that above and beyond the difficulties that he has faced, his zest for life, his love of the supporters and his close bond with the Capital will remain forever unchanging.
The Beaumont-sur-Oise born defender has also become a reference point and role model for the youngsters in the academy, as natural mentor for the youngsters from the academy as they progress towards the first team. "Presnel is a role model and a very nice person. Every time that a youngster makes the step up to the first team, he welcomes them like they were his little brother. He really is a top guy", explained Timothée Pembele.
One thing is sure, at just 24 years old, the world champion still has bundles of good times ahead of him in the Capital. A pure product of the Paris academy and the apple of the eye of all those that love the badge that he wears on his heart, 'Presko' has all that is needed in order to become the Made in Paris reference point. And just at the right time, as new challenges await very soon...