Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mbappé gets mixed reception from fans in last PSG home game


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Kylian Mbappé‘s relationship with PSG ends on a sour note after starting amid fanfare

PARIS, May 13: Kylian Mbappé got a mixed reception from Paris Saint-Germain fans in his last home game for the club before scoring in a 3-1 home defeat against Toulouse in the French league.
Mbappé grabbed his league-leading 27th goal of the season in the eighth minute after sprinting clear and rounding the goalkeeper.
As the lineups were announced at Parc des Princes, there were loud jeers from sections of the crowd when Mbappé’s name was read out. But shortly after, ultra supporters from the CUP – Paris Ultras Collective – unfurled a banner in his honor behind one of the goals.
It read “Enfant de la Banlieu” (Kid from the Suburbs) in reference to the Parisian suburb of Bondy where Mbappé grew up. They also made a giant tifo in his image, featuring Mbappé in a trademark pose with his arms crossed. Mbappé went over to the fans and applauded.
After the final whistle, fans sang “On est les Champions” (We are the Champions) but did not chant Mbappé’s name.
Mbappé publicly confirmed on Friday that he is leaving at the end of the season, having already informed the club in mid-February. He spoke Friday in a video posted on X and not through the club’s communications department.
Although he has yet to announce his destination, Mbappé is widely expected to join 14-time Champions League winner Real Madrid.
Mbappé has three matches remaining – two league games and the French Cup final against Lyon on May 25 – to add to his club-record tally of 256 goals.
Kylian Mbappé’s relationship with Paris Saint-Germain started with great fanfare but is ending amid ongoing tensions and without a Champions League trophy.
Mbappé joined as a teenage phenom from Monaco in 2017 in a deal worth 180 million euros ($194 million).
He was loudly jeered by sections of the crowd at Parc des Princes when his name was announced two days after finally making it official he is leaving though Mbappé got a warmer welcome from other PSG fans.
As the football world discussed his imminent departure on Friday, French champion PSG did not comment on the matter.
The late-evening announcement by Mbappé may have taken PSG by surprise since it was in a video posted on X, and not through the club’s communication department.
Between then and the Sunday night kickoff, there were more than 20 posts on PSG’s official feed on X.
Those included an exclusive look at next season’s home strip, an item on a betting site, a clip of PSG’s women’s team reaching the French Cup final, and kickoff times for the match in different parts of the world — but nothing on Mbappé.
No tribute was paid to him by the club during Sunday’s game, either, albeit not the last match of the season.
It was left to the ultra supporters from the CUP, or Paris Ultras Collective, to honor him with a banner and a giant tifo in his image.
The fracture between the cash-rich Qatari-owned club and its 256-goal record scorer appears to run deep.
PSG may be feeling let down by Mbappé after offering him the most lucrative contract in the club’s history when he signed a new contract in 2022.
But Mbappé was frustrated because he felt promises to sign key players — notably a top-class center forward like Robert Lewandowski so he could play in his favored position wide left — were not kept.
Mbappé stunned PSG in June last year by informing the club he would not take the option for an extra year. With his contract effectively into its final year, it put PSG in the position of needing to sell Mbappé to avoid losing him for free when the contract expired.
PSG insisted he would be sold but Mbappé wanted to see out the final year, so the club flexed its muscle by leaving him out of the pre-season tour to Japan in late July.
Relations appeared to be repaired for a while, but they took another turn for the worse when Mbappé informed club president Nasser Al Khelaifi in mid-February that he was leaving, although he did not go public until Friday.
In between times, Mbappé’s relationship with Enrique — knowing his best player would be leaving — reportedly became more tense.
Enrique showed his authority in recent weeks by either putting Mbappé on the bench or taking him off during important games. (AP)


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