Kylian Mbappé‘s relationship with PSG ending on a sour note after starting amid fanfare

by 24USATVMay 13, 2024, 9 a.m. 27
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PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé's relationship with Paris Saint-Germain started with great fanfare but is ending amid ongoing tensions and without a Champions League trophy.

Mbappé joined as a teenage phenom from Monaco in 2017 in a deal worth 180 million euros ($194 million). On Sunday, the 25-year-old superstar played his last home game for PSG and scored in a 3-1 loss to Toulouse.

He was loudly jeered by sections of the crowd at Parc des Princes when his name was announced — two days after finally he is leaving — though Mbappé got a warmer welcome from other PSG fans.

As the soccer world discussed his imminent departure on Friday, French champion PSG did not comment on the matter.

The late-evening announcement by Mbappé may have taken PSG by surprise since it was , and not through the club’s communication department.

Between then and the Sunday night kickoff, there were on PSG’s official feed on X.

Those included an exclusive look at next season’s home strip, an item on a betting site, a clip of PSG’s women’s team reaching the French Cup final, and kickoff times for the match in different parts of the world — but nothing on Mbappé.

No tribute was paid to him by the club during Sunday’s game, either, albeit not the last match of the season.

It was left to the ultra supporters from the CUP, or Paris Ultras Collective, to honor him with a banner and a giant tifo in his image.

The fracture between the cash-rich Qatari-owned club and its 256-goal record scorer appears to run deep.

Here’s a look at how relations deteriorated.

PSG may be feeling let down by Mbappé after offering him the most lucrative contract in the club’s history when he .

But Mbappé was frustrated because he felt promises to sign key players — notably a top-class center forward like Robert Lewandowski so he could play in his favored position wide left — were not kept.

When he signed the new deal, he was paraded in front of fans holding up a jersey with 2025 on it. Mbappé was reportedly annoyed about this, because the contract was until 2024 with the option for an extra year.

Mbappé stunned PSG in June last year by informing the club he would not take the option for an extra year. With his contract effectively into its final year, it put PSG in the position of needing to sell Mbappé to avoid losing him for free when the contract expired.

PSG insisted he would be sold but Mbappé wanted to see out the final year, so the club flexed its muscle by leaving him out of the in late July.

Al-Hilal came in with a bid, but Mbappé was not interested and reportedly refused to meet with representatives from the Saudi club in Paris.

After being left out of the preseason tour, Mbappé posted a photo of himself online after training with some fringe players, stopping to sign autographs outside the club’s training complex.

The standoff continued when Mbappé was dropped for this season’s opening league game, as PSG drew 0-0.

and Neymar on his way , PSG coach Luis Enrique simply could not afford to keep overlooking Mbappé. He returned in the next league game and .

Relations appeared to be repaired for a while, but they took another turn for the worse when Mbappé in mid-February that he was leaving, although he did not go public until Friday.

In between times, Mbappé's relationship with Enrique — knowing his best player would be leaving — reportedly became more tense.

Enrique showed his authority in recent weeks by either putting Mbappé on the bench or taking him off during important games.

Mbappé’s near-untouchable status at PSG was suddenly in question.

When Enrique replaced him midway through the second half against bitter rival Marseille on March 31, a surprised Mbappé appeared to mutter something negative as he walked off.

Enrique said he was rotating Mbappé to keep him fresher for the bigger games. They jumped into each other’s arms after PSG knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League quarterfinals, with in the second leg.

But resting Mbappé made no difference in the semifinals against Borussia Dortmund, with as PSG lost both games 1-0.

Once again, PSG fell short in European soccer’s elite club competition.

Mbappé's last PSG match will be on May 25 in the French Cup final against Lyon.

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