At first he lost to Lionel Messi. Now, Paris Saint-Germain, the French football champions backed by Qatar, could face the loss of one of the game’s biggest stars: Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe, 24, one of the world’s most famous athletes and a cornerstone of the club’s plans to rebuild its identity around a core of France’s best talent, has told Paris Saint-Germain in a letter that he will not renew his contract when it expires next June, according to a report. To an executive familiar with the discussions between Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain, the CEO was not authorized to speak publicly about the talks, given their sensitive nature.
Mbappe’s decision may force PSG to consider a move he would prefer to avoid: selling Mbappe’s playing rights as soon as this summer, rather than risk losing him for nothing when his deal ends. If the club receives Mbappe’s offers, it is expected that Paris Saint-Germain will demand a price well in excess of $ 200 million, and perhaps a price that may exceed the player’s world record.
Senior PSG officials were surprised by Mbappe’s letter, according to the CEO, and learned of it after they were first contacted by a French news outlet claiming to have received a copy of it before it was sent to the club. A spokeswoman for Mbappe did not respond to a request for comment. PSG representatives also did not comment on the letter or how the club was informed of Mbappe’s intentions, which were first reported By the French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
Paris Saint-Germain faced a similar crisis regarding Mbappe’s future only last summer, as the striker, whose contract expired at the time, was ready to join Real Madrid before trying to last, and cold money persuaded him to stay in Paris. Keeping him was a priority for Qatar, which has funded Paris Saint-Germain for more than a decade and was keen to keep its biggest stars in color during a year when it was hosting the men’s World Cup.
The contract Mbappé eventually signed was a two-year deal, with a player option for a third season. In his letter, a copy of which was seen by The New York Times, Mbappe told the team that he would not exercise the option, which means that his current contract, and most likely his association with Paris Saint-Germain, will expire after next season – unless Paris Saint-Germain. He finds a team willing to pay to get him sooner.
Once again, the most likely destination for Mbappe is Real Madrid, the Spanish club that was his favorite team as a kid, and who offered him the richest contract in its history just a year ago.
Since then, Mbappe’s star has grown, particularly in the World Cup in Qatar, where he led France to the final against Messi and Argentina. Mbappe single-handedly wrestled his second consecutive championship title against France by scoring all three of his team’s goals in an exciting final that Argentina won on penalties.
Messi and Mbappe then returned to Paris and helped PSG win their second consecutive Ligue 1 championship.
Mbappe has stated that his desire to leave PSG comes just days after the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, responded positively to a question from a fan about whether the Spanish club would hire Mbappe. Perez replied thatBut not this year.And that may be about to change.
Last summer, in an interview with The Times ahead of the European season and World Cup, Mbappe discussed his admiration for Real Madrid, the club that invited him to Spain to train even before he reached his teens, and whose stars once stared him down. It has posters on the wall of his childhood bedroom. Invited to train in Madrid, Mbappe vowed to return to the club one day, he said, but his decision to turn down a record-breaking offer from Madrid to re-sign with PSG raised doubts about whether his dream would ever come true.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Mbappe said at the time, acknowledging that although he didn’t play for Real Madrid, the team had revolved around his professional career in the deepest way. “You’ve never been there, but it looks like your house, or something.”
The presence of Real Madrid in the negotiations last year helped raise the price of Mbappe. When Real Madrid offered a contract worth more than $250m over three years, PSG had to contend with an even richer deal, which included an opt-out clause it now plans to exercise.
While PSG weren’t particularly sad to see Messi’s back after his two seasons in France, the potential loss of Mbappe, a French national treasure set up on the outskirts of Paris, and the ring of suburbs and cities that surround the capital, would herald the loss of Mbappe. Big crisis about the direction of the club.
Mbappe had largely escaped the wrath of the club’s supporters for a season in which he claimed another French title, a success now so commonplace that it is hardly celebrated, but which included another year of failure in the Champions League, Europe’s biggest prize. soccer.
Messi, in his final months with the team, became an object of scorn: fans jeered him during matches and the club suspended him for two weeks after an unauthorized late-season leave to Saudi Arabia. This season, fans have also expressed their anger at other key players, including Brazilian Neymar who, along with Messi and Mbappe, formed the most feared attacking line in football.
After signing an extension with Paris Saint-Germain in 2022, Mbappe said in an interview in New York that his decision to stay with the club was partly out of his desire not to leave the club as a free agent, thus denying him a nine-figure transfer. expenses. Now, the club and Mbappe find themselves in exactly the same situation.
Under his current deal, Mbappe has until July 31 to inform the club whether or not he will sign an automatic contract extension on terms the club believes are the richest in European football. In the months leading up to his letter being sent this week, Mbappe’s family and his lawyer had been in discussions with the club over a new multi-year agreement.
His apparent desire to move could mean a repeat of the same TV series that engulfed France last year, when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, was enlisted to persuade Mbappe to stay in France as he prepares to defend the World Cup title he won in 2018.
The biggest obstacle for PSG to beat Mbappe is not financial, but sporting. The team, which despite its routine domestic success, appears to be stuck in a perpetual crisis behind the scenes: it is already facing a rebuilding on and off the field, including the appointment of a new coach for the second consecutive summer.
The departure of Messi – who has expressed interest in joining Inter Miami in the US – was expected, and the club is open to selling Neymar while they retool. The loss of Mbappe could also, in these circumstances, catapult a team long known for its stars into a worrying period of uncertainty.
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