By Eoin McSweeney and Becky Anderson, CNN
Kylian Mbappé isn’t leaving Paris Saint-Germain — for now.
“I will give everything I have to win the Champions League, the league and the cup. And to give all the pleasure to the fans, because they deserve it,” said Mbappé.
The 23-year-old’s current contract with PSG expires on June 30, 2022, and the French superstar hasn’t ruled out a summer move to Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants submitted a $188 million bid for Mbappé in August, and transfer rumors about the potential blockbuster signing continue to swirl.
The deal was close to being struck, and the striker even admitted at the time that he wanted to leave PSG. Despite having to stay in the French capital after the club deemed Madrid’s offer insufficient, Mbappé doesn’t regret making his feelings known.
“I was honest. I gave a feeling, I gave what I have in my heart,” he said. “I’m happy to stay … it’s my city too. I’m French … I want to win everything this season.”
Asked whether he would be playing for Real Madrid next season, Mbappé laughed, saying that the only thing he had on his “mind is to beat Real Madrid in February and March.”
In an exciting twist of fate, Mbappé’s PSG will soon go toe-to-toe with 13-time European Cup winners Real Madrid, in a star-studded Champions League round-of-16 tie after fixtures were redrawn following a technical error in the UEFA draw for the competition in December.
Despite the French team’s Qatari owners splurging more than $1 billion on transfers since their takeover in 2011, PSG have failed to win the world’s premier club tournament.
PSG did reach the Champions League final for the first time in 2020, but were beaten by Bayern Munich 1-0 in Lisbon. In last season’s competition, PSG were beaten 4-1 on aggregate by Manchester City in the semifinals.
“We have to be ready. It’s time,” said Mbappé. “It’s the most important part of the season. Of course, we want to step up now. It’s been two years we do final, semifinal, but now we want to win.”
Motivations for staying
The native Parisian grew up in Bondy, a commune in the suburbs of the city, and wasn’t even born when France won its first World Cup in 1998.
Since moving to PSG from rival club Monaco in 2017, Mbappé has been the Ligue 1 top scorer three years running, having also won the same number of league championships and two player of the year awards.
As a teenager, he was voted the best young player at the 2018 World Cup, scoring four goals, including one in the final as France lifted the trophy for the second time.
This year alone, he’s scored more than 50 goals and has over 20 assists. He topped off 2021 by being crowned the best men’s player at the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards on Tuesday.
With club and country, his success at such a young age is unparalleled, and realizing his dreams at his hometown team is a major reason behind him staying for now.
“Paris is my city, it’s where I was born, it’s where I grew up,” Mbappé told CNN. “To play for PSG, it’s an amazing feeling to play with your family and friends alongside of you.”
Another motivation is the arrival of Argentine footballer, Lionel Messi, who joined from FC Barcelona in the summer.
As a child, Mbappé would have watched Messi playing at his peak from 2009-2012, when he won four Ballon d’Or trophies and two Champions League titles.
Considered the greatest player ever, the transfer shocked the sport, and created a much-vaunted forward line of Messi, Mbappé and Brazilian legend, Neymar.
The trio have yet to hit their stride this season, and to play with Messi, Mbappé has had to “adapt” his game and make concessions, because the diminutive playmaker prefers working in tight spaces.
But speedster Mbappé is just happy to be able to learn from and play alongside such quality teammates.
“It’s a big pleasure for me to say to my kids, to my friends, I play with him [Messi]. We have to enjoy seeing him in Paris … It’s an amazing moment in the history of the game.”
And if his plans for a move to Real Madrid fall through, where else would the superstar like to play? Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich … maybe even a move to London might be on the cards?
Tom Holland, who plays the role of Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: No Way Home“, tried to convince Mbappé to join Tottenham Hotspur, the club the Marvel franchise regular supports, at the Ballon d’Or award ceremony earlier this month.
Interviewer Anderson, who is a also a Spurs fan, asked the same question to Mbappé, but the 23-year forward put to bed any possibility of that particular move materializing, to the CNN anchor’s disappointment.
“I don’t think I will play for Tottenham in my life,” he says laughing. “He [Tom Holland] asked me about it, but no, no. It’s a great club… And I’m sure they will make something good this season with [Antonio] Conte.”
In the meantime Mbappé will continue to enjoy winter evening walks on the banks of the Seine and the sight of the Eiffel Tower on the way to games.
But if his long-term future at PSG is in doubt, an ambitious glint in his eyes, provides enough evidence that he wants to make what is possibly his last six months in the French capital, count.
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