Kylian Mbappe scooped up the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award for 2018/19 but just under the surface, all may not be well with the French boy wonder.
Mbappe was fully deserving of his award, scoring 32 goals in just 28 games as PSG strolled to a sixth league title in seven years, taking up the goalscoring burden in the long-term absence of the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
However, upon receiving his award, the 20-year-old came out with some rather murky comments, eluding to the fact that he may well be considering a move away from Paris in search of a new challenge with “more responsibility”.
“It’s a very important moment for me, I come to a turning point in my career,” Mbappe said. “I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility.
“I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”
Well, it now appears that no such “new project” will materialise for the French forward after PSG responded to his comments by suggesting both parties have a “shared ambition” and “will continue next season”.
A statement read: “For two years, a strong bond has been formed between PSG and Kylian Mbappe; and this story will continue next season. With a shared ambition to make European football history in the year of the club’s 50th anniversary.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) May 20, 2019
“A highly-anticipated moment in which we can all come together to write a new, great page in the club’s history where each individual must play a role geared towards the collective.”
However, if there is one certainty in football, it’s that there are no guarantees and Mbappe could yet leave the French capital. As such, we’ve taken a look at the potential options should he follow up on his original transfer threat.
Sure, Mbappe claims he wants “more responsibility”, but what 20-year-old footballer wouldn’t want the chance to play alongside Lionel Messi? Or Luis Suarez for that matter.
Such is Mbappe’s reverence for arguably the greatest player of all time, he even admitted to breaking his nap cycle just to watch Messi.
“I cut my nap this afternoon to watch Messi score two and then I went back to bed,” he said, before audaciously vowing to pip him to the European Golden Shoe.
Barcelona haven’t loosed their iron grip on La Liga since losing Neymar but they have majorly faltered in Europe – their latest continental embarrassment came in the form of their second-leg collapse against Liverpool in this season’s Champions League semi-final.
Barca want their European crown back, Mbappe would likely jump at the chance to line up alongside Messi, and with those two playing alongside Suarez at the point of the attack, it’s hard to see anyone stopping them. Two plus two equals four, this is a match made in heaven.
Of course, there is another guy who likes to stake his claim for the G.O.A.T throne: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo is 34 years old now but still managed 28 goals this season for Juventus, including six in the Champions League. But eventually, even for someone who keeps himself in the Spartan-esque shape that Ronaldo does, time catches up. The chance to play alongside this footballing god won’t be around forever.
Should Mbappe take that chance? Maybe so.
More to the point, Juve, just like Barca, want European success. In fact, given that they’ve waited since 1996 to be European champions, they probably want it even more.
Eight straight Serie A titles will sooth the pain a little, and that almost-guaranteed success means Mbappe wouldn’t be giving up his titles by swapping Paris for Turin, but with the Frenchman dovetailing off Ronaldo, the Old Lady’s European pipe dream could become a reality. And what better honour could Mbappe possibly hope for than to finally return ‘old big ears’ to Juve’s trophy cabinet?
Squawka suggests: Barcelona
Juventus’ argument is a compelling one, but this is Barcelona we’re talking about. Juve are giants but when Barca come knocking, you must say yes. Messi still has a good few years left in him yet and the pure desire to win another European crown will be stirring in him all summer. That should only motivate Mbappe to join him, where he could eventually take over as the king of the Camp Nou.
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Realistic: Real Madrid
Other than Barcelona, which club can make even the biggest footballer weak at the knees at the mere mention of a transfer? Real Madrid.
Since losing Ronaldo to Juventus last summer, Los Blancos have been absolutely terrible. After winning four Champions League titles in five years, they were dumped out of the competition by Ajax on their own turf, crashed out of the Copa del Rey with defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona and finished third in La Liga behind them and their other nemesis, Atletico Madrid – losing 12 games along the way. That’s the most they’ve lost in a single La Liga season since the 1998/99 campaign.
It’s clear they need a new talisman and if the rumour mill is to be believed, then Mbappe could be the man for them. Madrid are one of a small clutch of clubs who could actually afford Mbappe, while the allure of joining the 13-time European champions may be too much to resist.
Although he previously stated he would stay at PSG, Mbappe’s earlier comments regarding Zinedine Zidane’s return to Madrid take on a new form when put alongside his more recent statement about taking up “more responsibility”, wherever the destination.
“It’s good for Real Madrid that Zidane is back but I’ll watch their games as an admirer,” Mbappe said in April.
Admirer or accomplice? As if Real Madrid wasn’t a tempting enough prospect to begin with, Mbappe being able to play under Zidane, one of the greatest French players of all time, could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, even bigger than playing alongside Messi or Ronaldo.
This one has dream and realistic written all over it.
Realistic: Manchester City
Although we’re hoping it doesn’t become as routine as it has done in the likes of Germany, France and Italy, Man City’s clean sweep of domestic trophies in England this season has been something to behold.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been breaking records and tearing teams apart over the past two seasons but what City’s super-rich owners now desire more than anything else is continental success – especially after crashing out in the quarter-finals to Liverpool and Spurs in the past two seasons.
Money isn’t an issue, financial investigations aside, City can pretty much go out and buy whoever they want. They’ve even got an almost bottomless pit of talent to sell if they do need to balance the books.
Guardiola is often lauded as the greatest manager in the world and the way he has moulded City into a ruthless attacking outfit has been so impressive. Sergio Aguero is now 30 and while Gabriel Jesus has been an able deputy, he’s no match for Mbappe, whose goal tally could go through the roof with the service he’ll receive from the likes of Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
Since Mbappe dropped his bombshell when picking up his Player of the Year award, reports have suggested City may well be his ‘most feasible’ destination. Keep an eye on this one.
Squawka suggests: Real Madrid
Sure, Man City are on the verge of becoming all-conquering but they never have and likely never will match the prestige of Real Madrid. Los Blancos are the dreamboat of almost every player who puts on a pair of boots but unlike us mere mortals, Mbappe is actually good enough to live out that dream. They need a new icon, a man to count on above all others and idolise as a deity. Mbappe has the talent and, even at 20, the experience for that.
On multiple occasions, Jurgen Klopp has insisted that he doesn’t see the need to go and splash the cash this summer as he did in 2018. However, he’d likely reconsider that if he even had a sniff of landing Mbappe.
Liverpool’s front three have been the stuff of nightmares for every side they’ve faced over the past few years but the lack of depth behind them has cost them on a number of occasions – not least in the 2018/19 Premier League title race.
Of course, Mbappe would never be signed for depth, something would have to give. Maybe Roberto Firmino could be dropped into midfield to give the Reds a boost of creativity further back? Maybe one of their front three will just have to suck it up and sit on the bench from time to time. Either way, a Liverpool spearheaded by Mbappe is a frightening prospect and one that even Guardiola’s City would struggle to hold back.
Wildcard: Bayern Munich
Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben have played their final games for Bayern Munich. It’s the end of an era but the German champions cannot sit back and reminisce for too long if they want to build a squad that can challenge for the Champions League again.
Robert Lewandowski continues to score goals at an alarming rate and is good for a few years but either side of him, the injury-prone Kingsley Coman cannot be relied upon, Serge Gnabry has vastly improved but remains mercurial and Alphonso Davies is incredibly inexperienced having only recently moved from Vancouver Whitecaps.
Mbappe sliding in alongside Lewandowski, using his pace to drive inside and deliver thunderbolt after thunderbolt would provide Bayern with one of the most potent attacks on the continent. Just as it is at PSG, domestic success is pretty much a given. But unlike at the French club, Bayern have legitimate history and heritage on the continent, with serious dreams of adding to their five European Cups next season.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness has claimed the club won’t spend more than the £70m it cost them to secure Lucas Hernandez but just as we mentioned with Liverpool, he could soon change his tune if a player of Mbappe’s calibre becomes available.
Squawka suggests: Liverpool
If Mbappe genuinely wants to test himself and play under a manager who will give him the love and responsibility he craves, Liverpool could actually be his best choice from this entire list.
The Reds racked up 97 points in the Premier League this season – the third-highest total in the competition’s history – but were agonisingly pipped to the post by City. However, a sixth European crown is well within their grasp and this side could go on to dominate domestic and continental football for a few years.
Mbappe would fit Klopp’s ethos like a dream and at just 20 years old, he would have time on his hands to help Liverpool juggernaut all in their path before still getting his dream move to one of the Spanish giants later down the line.