France’s Olivier Giroud warns England Kylian Mbappé ‘can still improve’

<span>Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Kylian Mbappé’s talent “is scary”, said Olivier Giroud, who has warned England the France striker is yet to reach his potential at the World Cup.

Mbappé, the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals in the first four games, did not take part in training on Tuesday because he was undertaking a recovery session indoors.

There was no word of any injury from within the France camp and the Paris Saint‑Germain striker will be the biggest threat to England when they face the world champions in the last eight on Saturday.

Mbappé has been in sensational form and the worry for England’s defenders is that Giroud, who broke Thierry Henry’s record of 51 goals for France when he opened the scoring in the 3-1 win against Poland in the last 16, believes the 23-year-old is capable of going up another level.

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“Kylian is one of the best players I have played with,” he said. “He is amazing, which is scary because he can still improve. His game, he’s very efficient. From the beginning of the competition he has been crucial for us.

“He is very decisive. He is the best striker I have played with.

“We have still not seen the best of Kylian. I hope it is going to come soon. I know my records will be broken by him. He is unbelievable.”

Giroud played a selfless role when France won the World Cup in 2018 and has ensured they have not missed Karim Benzema, who was ruled out last month after aggravating a thigh injury. Deschamps has placed a lot of faith in the Milan striker, who has developed a good understanding with Mbappé on and off the pitch. It allowed Giroud to explain why his teammate has not been speaking much in public.

Hugo Lloris, the France captain
Hugo Lloris has given his France inside information on Harry Kane, his Spurs teammate. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

“Everyone has their own personality and own way of dealing with a big game,” the 36-year-old said. “It’s easier to be involved on the pitch if you de-dramatise the event. It’s important to be serene, lucid, calm and composed. This is why he’s not speaking off the pitch. He speaks on the pitch.”

Giroud is well aware of England’s qualities after spells with Arsenal and Chelsea. He said he had spoken with the France and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris about how much it would hurt to lose.

“England have had a good tournament,” Giroud said. “I hope they will have a tough game on Saturday. I know this team very well. We don’t want to lose against England. It’s a special game for us.

“There are so many great players, a young generation. They have quality but quantity as well. It will be a nice game to watch.”

Related: Kylian Mbappé has eyes on the World Cup, Golden Boot and Golden Ball

Giroud spoke of his admiration for Harry Kane. “He’s very powerful and he plays with his back to goal,” he said. “Over the last few years he likes moving down the pitch to be involved in the game. He is very good with assists. He’s a very good finisher but he knows how to be generous to his teammates.”

Giroud, who said there would be no arrogance from France, was asked about taking on the centre-back pairing of Harry Maguire and John Stones. “It’s going to be very tough and very tense,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games against these guys. Sometimes I’ve won, sometimes I’ve been a loser. I know them well and they know me well. It’s not just me against them.”

Giroud said the centre-back Raphaël Varane had delivered a rallying cry in the dressing room at half‑time against Poland. “Varane had some strong words,” he said. “He told us we could not take our foot off the pedal. He told us we must keep fighting. He told us to go and win – if we don’t fight now tomorrow will be late.”