Kylian Mbappe’s future at Paris Saint-Germain was in serious doubt on Tuesday after the France superstar told AFP he had never discussed extending his contract with the club beyond next year.
Mbappe and his entourage spoke out the day after he sent a letter to the club confirming he would not take up an option to remain at the French champions until 2025.
That immediately raised the spectre of the 24-year-old forward, one of the most coveted players in world football, following Lionel Messi out of Parc des Princes this summer because if Qatar-owned PSG do not cash in by selling him now, he could leave for nothing at the end of next season.
In a statement to AFP, Mbappe said he had informed PSG “on July 15, 2022” of his decision not to activate an option to extend his contract, which ends after next season, for an extra year “and the only aim of the letter was to confirm what had already been spoken about previously”.
“Kylian Mbappe and his entourage confirm that this matter has not been discussed since over the course of the year, except a fortnight ago to announce the sending of the letter.
“No potential contract extension has been mentioned,” it continued.
“After maintaining publicly in recent weeks that he would be a PSG player next season, Kylian Mbappe has not asked to leave this summer and has just confirmed to the club that he would not be activating the extra year,” Mbappe and his entourage explained.
The statement concluded by saying that the 2018 World Cup winner and those closest to him “regret that the letter was circulated in the media and that these exchanges were made public with the sole aim of damaging their image and the discussions with the club”.
Mbappe’s letter to PSG comes a year after the player signed a new deal to stay at the French champions, turning down an approach from Real Madrid in the process.
According to sources with knowledge of the discussions, PSG do not intend to let Mbappe leave for nothing and were surprised that the letter was leaked.
With the player confirming he will leave when his contract expires in 2024, PSG risk losing a huge asset for nothing in a year’s time, meaning they could now opt to sell him in the current transfer window, which is open until September 1.
Mbappe’s decision not to renew, first revealed by French sports daily L’Equipe, is a major blow to PSG.
It comes as they have been planning to make the forward the focal point of their team after allowing Messi to leave at the end of his own two-year contract.
Real Madrid on alert?
Having missed out on him a year ago, Real would again lead the suitors.
They are in the market for a new striker after reigning Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema ended his 14-year stay in the Spanish capital by moving to Saudi Arabia.
Mbappe is currently with the France squad preparing for Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Gibraltar and Greece.
Recently made the new France captain, a smiling Mbappe appeared relaxed as he trained with his teammates at their base near Paris on Monday.
He was still a teenager when he joined PSG on a season-long loan from Monaco in August 2017, just after helping the club from the principality win the Ligue 1 title.
The move turned into a permanent transfer the following year in a 180 million-euro ($195m) deal.
He helped France to World Cup glory in 2018 and has established himself as arguably the leading forward on the global stage.
Mbappe scored a hat-trick in France’s 2022 World Cup final defeat to Messi’s Argentina before helping PSG win a record 11th French title.
He was Ligue 1’s top scorer last season with 29 goals and netted 41 in 43 games in all competitions.
Yet it was a frustrating season, as PSG were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich and lost at the same stage in the French Cup.
Their regularly poor performances in the second half of the campaign persuaded PSG not to offer new terms to Messi, who fell out with the club after missing training to take an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
Last week Messi announced that he would move to MLS side Inter Miami.
Sergio Ramos has also been allowed to leave and the future of Neymar, who is under contract until 2025, is in doubt with the club understood to be keen to part ways with the Brazilian.
PSG are working on bringing in new signings, with Spanish international Marco Asensio from Real Madrid and Uruguay midfielder Manuel Ugarte of Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon both expected to sign soon.
PSG are also expected to bring in a new coach to replace Christophe Galtier.
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