Reports emerged this week that Kylian Mbappe wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, despite the France superstar only signing a new contract with the Qatar-owned club at the end of last season.
AFP Sport looks at just why Mbappe might be unhappy, what PSG are saying, and whether a departure in January is a possibility.
Why is Mbappe said to be unhappy?
The story emerged on Tuesday, with Spanish sports daily Marca and several French media reporting that Mbappe wants to leave PSG as soon as possible. Many of the reports in France claimed that the 23-year-old feels “betrayed” by the club, disappointed that promises made to him when he signed his new contract in May have not been kept.
It is true that PSG did not make all the signings they wanted in the close season, with most of the focus on their failure to bring in a central defender. Yet Mbappe was apparently expecting a new centre-forward to arrive as well.
Robert Lewandowski was among the players linked with a move to Paris before eventually choosing Barcelona. The French champions also missed out on Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca, who went to West Ham United instead.
Mbappe, who scored 39 goals last season, got his 12th of this campaign in Tuesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Benfica. In Paris he plays alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi in an all-star front three, but he has hinted that he is not happy with the position he has been asked to play by new coach Christophe Galtier.
“I play differently here. I am asked to do different things than with my club. I have much more freedom,” Mbappe said after scoring for France against Austria last month.
Galtier himself later admitted that the World Cup winner is “more restricted” at his club, and that appears to be enough for the player to be having second thoughts about his decision to sign a new contract just a few months ago.
What have PSG said?
Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who was appointed to the role of football advisor by PSG just after Mbappe signed his new deal, responded to the reports by insisting on Tuesday that Mbappe “has never spoken to me about leaving in January” when asked by broadcaster Canal Plus.
Meanwhile, coach Galtier insisted he was not aware that Mbappe might want to leave the Parc des Princes this season. “I know nothing,” Galtier said. “All I know is that a rumour became a story and then that almost became a declaration.”
But the rumour was, according to several sources, started by the entourage of the player in order to put pressure on PSG because their number seven feels let down by the club.
“You are taking things out of context,” Achraf Hakimi, an ally of Mbappe’s in the Paris dressing room, told journalists. “He is concentrated on the club and he is happy here.”
Where could he go?
In any case, there is surely no chance PSG would consider selling their star player in the January transfer window. After all it is less than five months since they celebrated, on the final night of last season in May, after convincing Mbappe to turn down Real Madrid and sign a new three-year contract to stay in his home city until 2025.
If the rumours refuse to go away, PSG may think differently at the end of this season, especially if they fail again in their attempts to win the Champions League.
They may then feel that the club would be better off without an unhappy Mbappe.
Realistic contenders to sign a player of Mbappe’s status — he is the top-earning footballer in the world this year according to Forbes magazine — are few and far between.
However, despite their disappointment at missing out on Mbappe at the end of last season, Madrid would surely come back again as they look for a long-term successor to the ageing Karim Benzema up front.
The other club that has been periodically linked with France’s golden boy in recent years is Liverpool, who have the riches of the Premier League and may see Mbappe as the man to breathe new life into Jurgen Klopp’s team.