First it lost Lionel Messi. Now Qatar-backed French football champions Paris Saint-Germain will face the loss of another big star of the game, Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappé, 24, one of the world’s most famous athletes and a cornerstone of the club’s plans to rebuild its identity at the core of top French talent, has told PSG in a letter that he will not renew his contract when it expires next June. A manager familiar with the discussions between Mbappé and PSG is not authorized to speak publicly about the talks.
Mbappé’s decision could force PSG to consider a move it wants to avoid: selling Mbappé’s playing rights this summer, risking losing him for nothing when his contract expires. PSG are expected to demand more than $200 million if the club make offers for Mbappé, which could break the world record for a player.
According to the executive, PSG’s top brass were surprised by Mbappé’s letter and learned of it after being first contacted by a French news agency claiming to have received a copy of it before it was sent to the club. A spokesperson for Mbappé did not respond to a request for comment. PSG’s representatives did not comment on the letter or how the club was informed of Mbappé’s intentions. First reported By French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
PSG faced a similar crisis over Mbappé’s future last summer, as the forward, then out of contract, was ready to join Real Madrid before a last-ditch effort and cold, hard cash persuaded him to stay in Paris. Keeping him was a priority for Qatar, which had bankrolled PSG for more than a decade and was keen to keep its team’s biggest star in its colors in a year when it hosted the men’s World Cup.
The deal Mbappé 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, Mbappé told the team he would not exercise the option, meaning his current contract and his association with PSG would end after the coming season – unless PSG. Soon he found a team willing to pay to get him.
Again, the most likely destination for Mbappé is Real Madrid, which was his favorite team as a boy and only a year ago offered him the richest contract in its history.
Since then Mbappé’s star has grown, especially at the World Cup in Qatar, where he led France to the final against Messi and Argentina. Mbappé scored all three of his side’s goals in a thrilling final as Argentina won a penalty-kick shootout against France for the second time in a row.
Both Messi and Mbappe later returned to Paris to help lead PSG to its second consecutive French league championship.
Days after Real Madrid president Florentino Perez responded positively to a fan’s question about whether the Spanish club would recruit Mbappé, Mbappé said he would like to leave PSG. Perez replied, “But not this year.” That is about to change.
Last summer, in an interview with The Times ahead of the European season and World Cup, Mbappé discussed his admiration for Real Madrid, who invited him to Spain for training before his teenage years, and whose stars once looked out. About him from the wall of his childhood bedroom. After a call-up to train at Madrid, Mbappé vowed to return to the club one day, but his decision to turn down a record offer from Madrid to re-sign with PSG raised doubts whether his dream would ever come true.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Mbappé said at the time, admitting that even though he doesn’t play for Real Madrid, the team has surrounded his professional career in a more profound way. “You’ve never been there, but it looks like your home or something.”
Real Madrid’s presence in negotiations last year helped drive up Mbappé’s price. When Real Madrid offered him a contract worth more than $250 million over three years, PSG was forced to face an even richer contract that included an opt-out clause he now plans to activate.
While PSG won’t be particularly upset to see the back of Messi after two seasons in France, the potential loss of Mbappé, a French national treasure raised in the Paris Bunleuse, a ring of suburbs and satellite towns around the capital, is a huge strain in the club’s direction.
Mbappé had survived the wrath of the club’s supporters for a season that delivered another French title, a victory now so commonplace it is rarely celebrated, but another year of failure in the Champions League, Europe’s biggest prize. Football.
Messi, in his final months with the team, became an object of contempt: jeered by fans during matches and suspended by the club for two weeks after an unauthorized late vacation to Saudi Arabia. This season fans have also vented their anger at other key players, including the Brazilian who has formed one of the most feared forward lines in football alongside Neymar, Messi and Mbappe.
After signing his extension with PSG until 2022, Mbappé said in an interview in New York that his decision to stay at the club was due to his desire not to leave the club as a free agent, thus missing out on a nine-figure transfer fee. fee. Now the club and Mbappé find themselves in the same position.
Under his current deal, Mbappe has until July 31 to tell the club whether or not he will sign an automatic extension on terms the club believes are the richest in European football. Months before sending his letter this week, Mbappé’s family and his lawyer had been discussing a new multi-year deal with the club.
His apparent desire to represent the same soap opera that gripped France last year, when he was enlisted to persuade even French President Emmanuel Macron to stay in France as they prepare to defend their World Cup title in 2018. .
PSG’s biggest obstacle to winning Mbappé back is not a financial one, but a sporting one. Despite its regular domestic successes, it seems locked in a perpetual crisis behind the scenes: It is already facing an off-field and rebuilding effort, including hiring a new coach for the second consecutive summer.
Messi’s departure – he has expressed his desire to join Inter Miami in the US – was predicted, and the club is ready to relaunch Neymar. Losing Mbappé, in this scenario, could plunge a team long known for its stars into an anxious period of uncertainty.