2022 – Kylian Mbappe: Why did the France international decide to stay at Paris Saint-Germain

The world champion at only 19 years old, the second teenager after Pele to score in the World Cup final and the Ligue 1 top scorer for four consecutive years, Mbappe is a unique footballer of his generation.

The 23-year-old striker has long been linked with Real Madrid. He was invited to the Spanish club’s academy when he was 11, had posters of Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid on his bedroom walls and said last year he wanted to be part of the 14-time European Cup winners.

The Spanish giants made a $188 million bid for Mbappe in August. The deal was so close to completion that the striker admitted at the time that he wanted to leave PSG.

“I was honest. I felt, I gave what I had in my heart,” Mbappe told CNN’s Becky Anderson in December.
When the Frenchman extended his contract with PSG instead of signing with Los Meringue, it came as a shock – to say the least.

“It was the hardest decision of my life,” Mbappe told CNN correspondent Amanda Davis on May 23. “I wanted to make the best decision…and that takes time…but I think I made the right decision.”

“The project must always win”

Mbappe made clear his decision to stay in Paris by repeatedly referring to the “project” being built at PSG.

Despite relying on seemingly limitless cash reserves, PSG have so far failed to win the Champions League and have an unfortunate knack for falling apart in the knockout rounds.

Now the club appears to be changing its approach.

“If I change all the things I want to change at the club,” Mbappe said before stopping and resetting. “If the club grows with me, and if I can write the history of the club together with the Champions League or individually, then I will be satisfied with this contract.

“When they showed me this project, I thought, OK, it’s fun. And I want to try. I want to try again.”

More changes appear to be underway at the Parc des Princes following Mbappe’s decision to stay.

“There will certainly be a lot of changes,” club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told Amanda Davis.

“We want to create a new era for PSG, a new project, fresh air. I think it’s really important to motivate everyone again.”

However, in a press conference announcing his contract extension, Mbappe denied that the new deal would give him additional influence on or off the field.

“For the project here, you don’t need any special responsibility for the investment,” he told reporters.

“Macron gave me good advice”

Born and raised in Bondi, a suburb of Paris 11 kilometers from the city centre, Mbappe has lived all his life in the French capital, with the exception of his two years with Monaco.

“He’s Parisian. He’s a French guy. He loves his country. He loves his club,” Al-Khelaifi told CNN. “So he’s been playing for the club for five years. [and] There is a relationship. There is love between him, the club, the fans and his country.”

His murals are dotted all over his former neighborhood as he became a champion for the young footballers there.

On the side of a building, a painting shows a sleeping young man dreaming of representing France. Read a small caption: “Love your dream and it will love you back.”

Since winning the 2018 World Cup, Mbappe has become a French cultural icon.

As the flagship of the French team from a suburb north of Paris, Mbappe’s value extends far beyond his performances on the pitch to the political arena.

Speaking on the TV show Chez Jordan, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was exuberant in her praise of the young striker.

“Most of all, I think other than football and results, he is very important and very useful in giving hope to our young people…that’s why I want him to stay,” she said.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to urge the young star to stay in Paris Saint-Germain and France.

Mbappe said: “He gave me good advice, but with all due respect to him, that was my decision. I followed that advice but then made my decision.”

“I will stay and I want to do my best for the history of the club and my country.”

New money for old money

Qatar Sports Investments (QSi) – the owner of PSG – is a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Since the Qatari group – led by Qatar’s emir himself – took control of Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, the club has spent an estimated $1.5 billion on transfers and won 10 Ligue 1 matches, even if the Champions League title proved elusive.

With only six months left before Qatar hosts the World Cup, retaining the potential star of the tournament at the prince’s club was a major coup.

According to the New York Times, Real Madrid offered Mbappe approximately $140 million in signing bonus, a net annual salary of over $26 million and complete control of his image rights.

Backed by huge government cash reserves, PSG faced similar contract fees but with an annual salary well above $65 million, according to Sky Sports.

Mbappe, Neymar and Messi are all strikers for Paris Saint-Germain.

This was a rare occasion when Real Madrid could not meet their rival’s financial offer and the victory of the “new” clubs, funded from the deep pockets of nation states, over the more established “old” clubs with a rich history behind them.

“What PSG are doing to renew with Mbappe for a huge amount of money (who knows where and how it will be paid) after declaring losses of 700 million euros and facing a wage burden of 600 million euros in recent seasons, is a disastrous affront to football,” said the league president. Spaniard Javier Tebas on Twitter: “The controversy is as dangerous as the Premier League.”

Tebas’ tweet reflected the views of his organisation, which issued a fiery statement when it seemed clear that Mbappe would remain in France.

“La Liga will bring a legal action against PSG before UEFA, the French Administrative Court, the Treasury and the UEFA authorities to continue to defend and sustain European football’s economic ecosystem,” the statement read.

“We know we’re doing everything legally and in the right way,” Al-Khelaifi told CNN. “And we are very happy. No one will spoil our celebration of the signing of Kylian Mbappe.”