By Associated Press
Kylian Mbappé, one of soccer’s most-coveted players, is set to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after again turning down the chance to join Real Madrid.
France’s World Cup-winning forward has agreed to a three-year contract extension that is close to being signed, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the contract talks publicly.
The 23-year-old Mbappé’s contract is expiring in June and he would have been available on a free transfer.
Instead of joining 13-time European champion Madrid, which has chased him for so long, Mbappé is staying to try to deliver PSG its first Champions League title.
Madrid managed to beat PSG in the Champions League this season but not in the transfer market once again.
The Spanish giant’s failure to sign Mbappé is a significant blow for its president, Florentino Pérez, who has been trying to get the transfer over the line for a year.
PSG turned down Madrid’s official bid of 180 million euros ($190 million) — the same amount it signed Mbappé for from Monaco in 2017 — and even another reported amount of 200 million euros ($211 million) was not enough to sell its star despite him having only a year remaining on his contract. Mbappé said he wanted to leave at the end of last season but only on the right terms for PSG.
The wealth of the club’s Qatar sovereign wealth fund ownership linked to the emir allows PSG to resist bids that could prove irresistible to other clubs without state funding.
The non-transfer reflects the shifting power dynamics in European football. Pérez was one of the architects of the European Super League breakaway from the UEFA Champions League that imploded within 48 hours in April 2021.
PSG opted out of joining the 12 Super League founders, allowing its president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, to gain one of the most powerful roles in the game as head of the European Club Association.
Pérez is still pursuing his Super League dream in conflict with UEFA.
Mbappé, who starred for France at the 2018 World Cup, would have been a statement signing for Pérez — especially if he had lured Mbappé away from a team that only emerged as a rival in the last decade through its Qatari funding.
But the energy expended in pursuing the transfer, and optimism from Madrid, which is chasing its record-extending 14th European Cup win when it meets Liverpool in next Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris, has come to nothing.
When Mbappé won the league’s best player award for the third time last Sunday, he said his mind was basically made up but didn’t say which way.
The tension between the clubs was evident when PSG was knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Madrid in March — despite leading 2-0 overall with two Mbappé goals — and Al-Khelaifi remains under UEFA investigation for allegedly confronting match officials after the loss.
Madrid is being thwarted yet again, having tried to sign Mbappé after he left Monaco in 2017 — and even before that.
He visited Madrid’s facilities aged 14, and was greeted by France great Zinedine Zidane, but he instead chose to launch his stellar career at Monaco .
Mbappé’s first professional goal came at the age of 17 years, 62 days, which beat the Monaco club record held by Thierry Henry.
Henry is France’s record scorer with 51 goals. Mbappé is already on 26 and may well overtake him as a PSG player.
He is PSG’s second-highest scorer with 168 goals and could surpass Edinson Cavani’s record of 200 next season.
He was looking to add to his league-leading tally of 25 later Saturday in the season-ending home game against struggling Metz at Parc des Princes, alongside teammates Lionel Messi — the record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner — and Neymar.
The glittering attacking trio, which hasn’t clicked as expected this season, will play together again next season.
However, Mbappé misses out on the chance to play alongside France teammate Karim Benzema for Madrid in what would have been a devastating partnership and the envy of Europe. Over the past year they have been prolific together for Les Bleus and both netted when France won the Nations League final.
Another one of the world’s coveted young forwards is Erling Haaland, who is leaving Borussia Dortmund for English powerhouse Manchester City.