PSG drop Kylian Mbappe from squad for Asian tour
PARIS – French champions Paris Saint-Germain have left Kylian Mbappe out of the squad for a pre-season tour of Japan, casting further doubt on the star forward’s future.
The 24-year-old has been taking part in the club’s pre-season preparations and played the last 30 minutes as PSG entertained Le Havre in a training-ground friendly on Friday, scoring a goal. PSG gave no reason for the omission of France’s captain.
Mbappe declared in May that he would not extend his PSG contract, which expires in 2024, but indicated he wanted to remain at the club for a final season. He said: “I still have a year left on my contract and I am going to honour my contract.”
That would allow him to become a free agent next summer and leave PSG for nothing. However, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi reacted by saying earlier in July that Mbappe “must sign a new contract”.
“We can’t let the best player in the world today leave for free. It’s impossible,” the Qatari said.
Khelaifi even gave Mbappe an ultimatum of a “maximum two weeks” to make his decision: sign a new contract or leave this summer. That date corresponds roughly with the team’s departure for Japan.
If Mbappe refuses to sign, the club must sell him in this transfer window, otherwise they will likely lose him for nothing when his deal ends after next season.
He was expected to leave a year ago for La Liga giants Real Madrid when his previous contract came to an end, only to agree a new deal to remain in Paris.
That was a two-year contract, with the option of a third season which would take him to 2025, which the player has said he would not take up, even if he has indicated his intention to see out his existing deal.
Having missed out on his signature a year ago, Real would again be chief among his suitors. They are in the market for a new striker after reigning Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema ended his 14-year stay in the Spanish capital, opting to move to Saudi Arabia.
Recently named as the new France captain, Mbappe was still a teenager when he joined PSG on a season-long loan from AS Monaco in August 2017, just after helping the principality club win the Ligue 1 title. The move turned into a permanent transfer the following year in a deal worth €180 million (S$266.5 million).
He helped France to World Cup glory in 2018 and has established himself as arguably the leading forward on the global stage.
Mbappe also scored a hat-trick in France’s 2022 World Cup final shoot-out defeat by then clubmate Lionel Messi’s Argentina before helping PSG win a record 11th French title.
He was the top scorer in Ligue 1 last season with 29 goals and netted 41 in 43 games for his club in all competitions.
PSG are under new management, with Luis Enrique as coach. Their Asian tour opens against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr in Osaka on Tuesday.
PSG then play Cerezo Osaka, also in Osaka, and Inter Milan in Tokyo before finishing off the tour in Busan, South Korea, against Jeonbuk Motors on Aug 3.
Moving to French shores is Chelsea striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he agreed to join Marseille on a three-year contract, the French Ligue 1 club announced on Friday.
“Come on OM... See you in Marseille,” the 34-year-old Gabon international said in a short video released by his new club on social media.
He scored just three goals in 22 appearances for the Blues after joining from Barcelona on a £10.3 million (S$17.6 million) deal last September.
He had scored 79 goals in 95 appearances at Borussia Dortmund, earning a move to Arsenal in 2018 and finishing as joint top-scorer in the English Premier League a year later. But he was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Mikel Arteta before being sold to Barcelona just weeks later.
Aubameyang scored 13 goals in 23 matches in six months in Spain, but was unable to reproduce that form during a season-long stay at Stamford Bridge.
France-born Aubameyang returns to French football, where he has also worn the colours of Lille, Monaco and Saint-Etienne. - AFP