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Newly unveiled PSG coach Luis Enrique swerves question on Kylian Mbappé’s future

<i>Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters</i><br/>Luis Enrique speaks at his unveiling as the new head coach of Paris Saint-Germain.
Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Luis Enrique speaks at his unveiling as the new head coach of Paris Saint-Germain.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — New Paris Saint-Germain head coach Luis Enrique swerved multiple questions about the future of the club’s star attacker Kylian Mbappé during his official unveiling on Wednesday.

Enrique, the former manager of Barcelona and the Spanish national team, signed a two-year contract with the French club and was asked several times by members of the media about the possibility of Mbappé leaving this summer.

Despite publicly declaring he wants stay in Paris for the upcoming 2023/24 season, the 24-year-old is said to be unhappy in the French capital and, according to multiple reports last month, Mbappé informed PSG that he will not be extending his contract, leaving the club with a decision to make: sell their star player this summer or let him walk for free in 2024.

But Enrique avoided saying anything concrete about the future of the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Asked if he can guarantee Mbappé’s staying next season, he said: “That’s a professional secret and I can’t give you any updates, but we will try to have the best squad possible.

“When I signed I knew that everything was open in the squad. Some things can happen in the market. … He’s got a contract and we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes because things are constantly changing. We’ll have a strong squad, I’m sure of that.”

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was more emphatic, saying: “Our position is very clear – very clear. If Kylian Mbappé wants to stay, we want him to stay. But he needs to sign a new contract.

“We cannot let the best player in the world right now leave for free. That is impossible. This is a French club, and as he has said, he is not planning to leave for free. If somebody has changed his mind, it is not our fault. We are not going to let one of the best players in the world leave for free. It is very clear.”

The future of Mbappé will be one of the biggest question marks hanging over Enrique’s beginning as PSG manager after joining on Wednesday.

“I count on all the players who have a contract – both current ones and players who we’re trying to sign. I also count on those players,” the Spaniard said.

“Who they are – that’s something that forms part of the day to day and that’s something that you know the market and football are changing constantly, but we’ll surely have a great squad, a great team and the fans will be proud. What I talk to [Al-Khelaifi] about interests the president and myself – and Mr. [PSG football advisor, Luis] Campos.

Enrique joins as a highly-decorated coach, having won a Champions League title, two Spanish league titles and three Spanish domestic cups during his time as Barcelona manager.

The 53-year-old has also managed Spain over two stints, the highlights being the semifinals of Euro 2020 and the final of the UEFA Nations League in 2021. He has also managed Italian club Roma and Celta Vigo in Spain.

Before he was a manager, Enrique was a successful player too, enjoying trophy-laden stints at both Real Madrid and Barça.

During his time at both clubs, he won a combined three league titles and three domestic cups.

He was also regular for the Spain national team during his time as a player, winning 62 caps for La Roja.

Enrique replaces Christophe Galtier, who was released from his position as head coach earlier on Wednesday.

In a statement, PSG said it gave “tribute to (Galtier’s) professionalism and commitment” during his year at the club.

In his one and only season at the helm, Galtier won the French League title – the club’s 11th Ligue 1 trophy making it the most successful club in the history of the French championship.

However, despite the star-studded nature of the squad, PSG once again suffered a humiliating from the Champions League in the knockout stages, losing to Bayern Munich.

Earlier in July, French public prosecutors announced that Galtier is to stand trial in Nice, France, over allegations of psychological harassment and racial discrimination.

The prosecutor’s press release noted that his office opened a preliminary investigation into Galtier and his son, John Valovic, following press reports in April that Galtier allegedly made statements that there were too many Black and Muslim players on the team.

CNN reached out to Galtier’s representation and PSG for comment at the time but did not receive a response.

In an April statement issued by Galtier’s lawyer, the coach “firmly denies” the allegations, describing them as “insulting and defamatory.” Galtier’s lawyer, Olivier Martin, announced at the time the immediate opening of “the necessary legal proceedings” in the statement.

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