PARIS (AP) — As Kylian Mbappe’s transfer standoff with Paris Saint-Germain continues, it remains unclear if the star striker will even be in the squad when PSG begins its league season at home against Lorient on Saturday.
And now Neymar’s future at the club suddenly looks uncertain as well.
France’s leading sports daily L’Equipe reported on Monday evening that Neymar has told the club he wants to leave this summer, increasing the turmoil surrounding the defending French league champion.
PSG said the club would not comment on Neymar’s situation, when contacted by The Associated Press.
The 31-year-old Neymar, who joined for a world-record fee of €222 million from Barcelona in 2017, is under contract until 2025.
Mbappe, who also joined in 2017, wants to play for PSG this season and then leave on a free transfer once his contract runs out, when he could request a massive signing-on fee and a higher salary. He has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Mbappe informed the club in June that he would not take up the extra year on his contract until 2025. PSG responded by insisting he will be sold this summer to prevent him leaving for free at the end of the season, and left him out of a preseason tour to Japan and South Korea. Mbappe has been training on his own or with fringe players since, and it appears unlikely he will be in the squad against Lorient unless an agreement is reached.
Having already lost record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, PSG now seems to be in danger of losing its two remaining superstars as well.
Messi’s move to Inter Miami came after the Argentine World Cup winner decided not to sign a one-year contract extension PSG had offered him.
But after years of pandering to its star players, notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Neymar, PSG is showing a firm intent not to be pushed around.
After being left out of the preseason tour, Mbappe posted a photo of himself online after training with some fringe players last week. He stopped to sign autographs as fans waited outside the club’s training complex, on the outskirts of Paris.
PSG has received a world-record $332-million bid from Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal for Mbappe, but the 24-year-old France international seems intent on staying in Europe. He reportedly refused to meet with representatives from the Saudi club when they were in Paris last month to sign another player.
Madrid has twice failed with bids to sign Mbappe, but the 14-time European Cup winner is in a much stronger position this time and Mbappe is the ideal replacement for Karim Benzema.
He would be a legacy signing and is young enough to play for many years there like Benzema, who left to join Saudi club Al-Ittihad after 14 trophy-packed seasons and 354 goals at Madrid.
Mbappe is PSG’s all-time leading scorer with 212 goals but has never won the Champions League, and also has his sights set on becoming a Ballon d’Or winner like Benzema.
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