At 23, Kylian Mbappé asserts himself as a conservative. At the end of a series as breathtaking as it is pathetic, the French player extended his contract with PSG until 2023. O joy, the nugget remains at home, “his house”. Oh what happiness, the “French genius” will still tread the lawns of Auguste-Delaune or Gabriel-Montpied to put triplets or quadruplets and distill assists – new fashionable stat. Let’s rejoice for French football, for French ticketing and TV rights, and of course for the French tax authorities. But this choice begs: Did Mbappé make a mistake? Does he like risk?
At PSG, Mbappé is the team’s only real star (the stars Neymar and Messi have – definitely? – passed away). In view of the club’s concessions to keep him, we can now say that he is the king of PSG. Exit Leonardo, soon farewell Pochettino…, Qatar is setting aside the institution for the benefit (and what profits) of its young player. Everything will depend on him: from the choice of sporting director to the coach to his teammates. A pressure therefore, but no real risk. A change of scenery, discovering a new championship, new practices, a new framework and above all new requirements.
It is an understatement to say that, since its takeover by Qatar, PSG has shown that it is not an institution, but a club often subject to its stars. For five years, Mbappé has had to find the sources of motivation within himself. Despite periods of doubt and air pockets, the staff never thought of putting him on the bench or getting him out of a match (like Neymar, Messi or Ibrahimovic in his time). The exceptional motivation of the former Monegasque (46 goals in 39 games this season) is enough for the moment to question himself after poor performances or disappointments (especially when spring comes). Until when ?
The discovery of a new universe – if it is a disaster for our championship which pays thirty years of exodus, it is the paradox – is a wonderful opportunity for a talented player. History proves that the French who went abroad became stronger: Michel Platini was shaped by Juventus, like Zinédine Zidane fifteen years later; Karim Benzema has matured at Real Madrid – and alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, to the point of becoming, without a doubt, the best striker on the planet, combining game intelligence, astounding physical condition and a formidable sense of goal. Like Erasmus for students, this foreign experience reappears in all strata of French football.
By staying at PSG, Mbappé plays it safe – six months from the World Cup in Qatar – and calculated risk. We can console ourselves by saying that at 23, he still has his whole life ahead of him.