Mbappe returns to training with PSG after constructive talks with the club
PARIS (AP) — Tensions between Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain eased a little on Sunday after the star striker was allowed to return to training following “constructive and positive talks” between the two parties.
Mbappe watched from the stands on Saturday night as defending champion PSG drew 0-0 at home to Lorient because he is mired in a contract standoff. He wants to play this season and leave for free when his contract runs out, but PSG wants to sell him to stop this happening.
“After very constructive and positive discussions between Paris Saint-Germain and Kylian Mbappe before the PSG-Lorient match, the player has returned to training with the first-team group this (Sunday) morning,” PSG said in a statement on Sunday.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi reportedly spoke to players at training on Sunday to tell them that Mbappe was once again part of the squad for the season. However, Mbappe already said he wanted to stay and play before leaving at the end of the campaign when his contract runs out, so in that respect little has changed.
The World Cup star was left out of the pre-season tour to Japan and South Korea and then trained apart from the first-team regulars last week. Now he could play away to Toulouse on Saturday.
PSG clearly needs him, having won only one of its four pre-season games and after looking toothless in attack against Lorient without Mbappe and Neymar.
PSG received a world-record $332 million bid from Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal for Mbappe, who reportedly refused to meet with representatives from the Saudi club when they were in Paris last month to sign another player.
The 24-year-old Mbappe is widely thought to want to join Real Madrid next season on a free transfer, complete with a massive signing-on fee.
PSG did not say if Mbappe had opened negotiations over a new a contract, but positive talks at least point to an improvement in relations that turned increasingly sour after Mbappe informed the club in June he would not take up the one-year extension to his contract.
That doubtless left Al-Khelaifi feeling bemused and let down after making huge efforts to meet Mbappe's wage demands when he signed a new contract in May last year until 2024, with an option for 2025.
The situation also put early pressure on new coach Luis Enrique, who said on Friday he hoped a solution could be found to keep Mbappe.
Even if the air has been cleared somewhat with Al-Khelaifi, it’s evident that Mbappe still holds all the cards.
And even though he posted a welcome message online when France winger Ousmane Dembele joined PSG from Barcelona on Saturday, they will only play for one season together if Mbappe leaves next summer as he intends.
But Brazil forward Neymar could leave PSG this summer along with midfielder Marco Verratti, who also did not play against Lorient. Both have been linked with a move to the lucrative Saudi Arabian league.
So Enrique still has a lot of work to do, and not much time, to make PSG competitive enough for the start of the Champions League.
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