Kylian Mbappe has arguably been the most talked about player in world football in recent months, but has done none of the talking. Until Tuesday.
The 22-year-old PSG and France superstar broke his silence in interviews with both L’Equipe and RMC Sport, finally sharing his side of the story after being at the center of several news stories that have generated plenty of debate in recent weeks.
Why would he choose to speak now after all this time? Perhaps he felt there was a need to repair his image after what transpired at the end of August with his failed transfer to Real Madrid and the subsequent boos he received from PSG fans in stadiums over recent weeks.
On being booed by some PSG fans:
“I told myself that in their place I’d boo too. I didn’t think “after all that I’ve done!” I took it as a sign of affection. They didn’t want me to leave, that means I’m important. I was clear in my mind about my situation.”
— Jeremy Smith (@jeremysmith98) October 4, 2021
Below are the most important revelations from the interviews, with all comments translated from French.
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Mbappe’s transfer to Real Madrid
During the summer we witnessed supposedly cash-strapped Real Madrid making a transfer move for Mbappe in the late stages of the transfer window, only for PSG to reject every offer — including one of over $200 million — up until the deadline.
PSG didn’t blink, and Mbappe is still their player this season — his final with the Parisian club. He confirmed that he did in fact want to leave and needed time to get over the drama.
“I thought that my adventure (with PSG) was over. I wanted to discover something else,” he told L’Equipe. “I’d been in the French league six or seven years. I’ve given what I tried at Paris and I think I’ve done it well. To arrive at 18 post-youth development and do everything I have, I think that’s something remarkable. But everyone is free to draw the conclusions they want, but that’s my assessment. Leaving was the logical next step.”
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Mbappe said he informed PSG in July that he wouldn’t renew his contract, but Real Madrid didn’t make its move until late August. It turns out that the Aug. 10 arrival of Lionel Messi didn’t do much to change things for Mbappe.
Kylian Mbappé to L’Équipe: “I was NOT changing my mind [on his desire to leave PSG] because of Leo Messi arrival… it’s a privilege, he’s great but I don’t make decisions on sudden impulses. I had made my decisions and I had thought long and hard about it”. 🔴 @GFFN #Mbappé #PSG
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 5, 2021
But with dreams to hoist the UEFA Champions League this season, PSG was not about to transfer its young star, even if it might lose him for nothing come next summer when his contract expires.
“I asked to leave, because from the moment I did not want to extend, I wanted the club to have a transfer fee to be able to sign a quality replacement,” Mbappe told RMC Sport. “It is a club which has given me a lot, I have always been happy, the four years that I’ve spent here, and I still am. I announced it early enough so that the club can come back. I wanted everyone to come out of this stronger, that we leave hand in hand, to make a good deal, and I respected that. I said, ‘If you don’t don’t want me to leave, I will stay.'”
Is there still a shot Mbappe stays with PSG? Well, he didn’t rule it out to L’Equipe. Stay tuned for more drama, as PSG continues to insist on convincing Mbappe to stay. Conversely, Real Madrid’s president promised a resolution to the drama in short order.
“I’ve been in football long enough now to know that yesterday’s truth is not necessarily today’s, nor tomorrow’s,” Mbappe said. “If I was told that Messi was going to play at PSG, I wouldn’t have believed it, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Mbappe admits to calling Neymar a bum
Mbappe was equally forthright about the episode in which cameras recently caught him on the bench calling Neymar a “bum” after the Brazilian star fed Julian Draxler for a goal in a last-minute Ligue 1 win against Montpellier. Mbappe didn’t deny it, and even confronted Neymar about it.
Mbappé on the subs bench moaning about something to Idrissa Gueye. Some suggesting that he isn’t happy with the lack of passes he received from Neymar, but not entirely sure if that’s the case.
Reminds me a bit of his mini feud with Giroud this summer…
— Tom Scholes (@_TomScholes) September 25, 2021
“Yes, yes, I said it. Now these are things which happen all the time in football. It just needs to be something that doesn’t linger,” he said. “That’s why, right after, given how it blew up, I spoke to him about it.
“We’ve exchanged a lot of words like that in the past and we’ll continue to do so, because we want to win, but there shouldn’t be any hard feelings. There is no resentment at all because I respect the player and the man and I admire what he is.”
Mbappe’s relationship with Messi
It’s hard to imagine Mbappe addressing Lionel Messi in the same way, especially given how he spoke of the Argentine legend in his interview with L’Equipe.
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“He is one of the few players on whom I put a label of ‘impossible for me to play with.’ For me, he was never going to leave Barcelona,” Mbappe confessed.
“When you have Messi on your team, you know he has to do a little less to be more sharp to score. So if you have to do it, do it. No problem, it’s an established hierarchy. I agree to run when Messi is walking. No problem. He’s Messi, anyway.”
Mbappe’s falling out with Olivier Giroud
He’s only 22, but Mbappe has already had a Neymar-like disagreement with another veteran: France teammate Olivier Giroud at the recent Euros, when Giroud went to the press to complain about not receiving passes from Mbappe in a match against Bulgaria.
“I had it out with (Giroud), I told him what I had to say, and afterwards it was over,” Mbappe told L’Equipe. “Certainly, it dragged on in terms of the media, people, there was always this shadow over the head of the team, but it was not a problem for us.
“I had a difference of opinion, yes, that played out in public because it began in public. Because it started in public, it had to end in public, it is simple. But I do not have any problem with him, I wish him the best, I see that he has started well with Milan.
“If he comes back to the French national team, I will welcome him with open arms. He was very close to breaking Thierry Henry’s record, it would be a shame if he was not given this possibility.”
Mbappe and the French national team
Mbappe reached the pinnacle of the sport in 2018 when he won the World Cup with France, but he says his lowest point also came in a France jersey this past summer. His failure to convert a penalty kick in a shootout against Switzerland contributed to a shocking Round of 16 elimination for the defending world champs and Mbappe suffered abuse because of it.
“I met with the (French Football Federation) president (Noel Le Graet) and we talked about it. What I went to complain to him about was that I was insulted and called a ‘monkey’ for missing a penalty.
“I could have (received more on-field support), I agree,” Mbappe continued. “But I would have never gone to demand it, it is not the same thing. Of course, that would have been nice, but I would never go ask for support on something that I messed up.
“What shocked me, again, was being called a monkey for the penalty. That is what I wanted support around, not because I took my penalty to the left and (Swiss ‘keeper Jurgen) Sommer stopped it.”
“It is over now, it is behind me. I have so much love for the French national team.”
Mbappe is currently with France as it gets set to make a run at the UEFA Nations League title this October, and he said he’s also dreaming of being part of the Olympic team in 2024. But he made it clear that if he’s ever seen as the problem, he’s happy to step aside for the good of France.
“I have always placed the French national team above everything and I will always put it above everything,” Mbappe said. “I have never taken a single Euro to play for the French national team and I will always play for my national team for free. Above all, I never wanted to be problem.
“But from the moment when I felt like that I was starting to become a problem and that people felt I was a problem … I got the message that my ego was what made us lose, that I wanted to take up too much space, and that without me we might have won.
“The most important thing is the French national team, and if the French national team is happier without me, it is like that (I’ll go).”