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Will Kylian Mbappe actually leave PSG this time?
Will Kylian Mbappe stay at Paris Saint-Germain or go this summer? Could he negotiate a new contract with the French champions?
AFP Sport looks at all the options on the table after the France superstar said he would not activate a clause to extend his current deal with PSG until 2025, meaning he will be a free agent next year.
Bluff or final decision?
The 24-year-old surprised everyone when he decided in May last year to sign a new deal with PSG, just a few days before his previous contract expired.
PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi announced the news, on the Parc des Princes pitch prior to the team's final match of the 2021/22 season, while the player posed with a shirt carrying "Mbappe 2025" on the back.
At the time, the club communicated that Mbappe had signed a three-year extension, but in reality it was a two-year contract (until 2024, therefore) with the option of a third year that the player himself could choose to activate, or not.
Mbappe said in a letter to the club on Monday that he would not activate that option.
That Mbappe has made that decision in advance of a fixed July 31 deadline to do so could be interpreted as a definitive decision, and that he will not change his mind again.
However, it could also be seen as part of a power struggle with Mbappe seeking to obtain new guarantees about the team PSG will field next season, and perhaps more money.
Will PSG sell?
On Monday night, PSG management made clear their anger after the letter Mbappe had just sent them was leaked in the press. The club immediately put out a message to say they would not be manipulated by a player, even their biggest and most valuable star.
The club's position appears to be that they will not allow Mbappe to leave for free in 2024, which will be the case if he stays one more year without agreeing a new deal.
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That means the only options are to negotiate new terms or sell to the highest bidder in the current transfer window, which runs into the start of next season and closes on September 1.
However, the player said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday that he had never discussed extending his contract with the club and said he had maintained "publicly in recent weeks that he would be a PSG player next season," that he had "not asked to leave this summer".
How much is Mbappe worth?
Mbappe signed for PSG from Monaco on a season-long loan in August 2017, which turned into a permanent transfer the following year in a 180 million-euro ($195m) deal.
The 2018 World Cup winner, who scored a hat-trick in last year's World Cup final as France lost to Argentina on penalties, would command an enormous transfer fee if PSG chose to sell now.
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PSG reportedly turned down a bid of 200 million euros from Real Madrid in 2021, when Mbappe was entering the final year of his previous contract.
Specialist site Transfermarkt gives Mbappe's current value as 180 million euros, and it is hard to imagine PSG accepting to sell their superstar for less than what they paid for him.
The only player ever sold for more is Neymar, who PSG signed for a record 222 million euros from Barcelona in 2017, a few weeks before they recruited Mbappe.
Where could he go?
Real Madrid is the obvious destination, given the Spanish giants have wanted to sign Mbappe ever since he was a teenager. Asked by a fan in the street last weekend if he was going to sign Mbappe, Real president Florentino Perez replied: "Yes but not this year."
Karim Benzema's decision to leave Madrid after 14 years and move to Saudi Arabia nevertheless means Real could make a move for a new striker now. Spanish sports daily Marca on Tuesday carried a picture of Mbappe on its front page. "He is back within reach" read the headline.
However, it remains to be seen if Real could afford to splash out the necessary fee after already agreeing to pay Borussia Dortmund just over 100 million euros for England midfielder Jude Bellingham.
The only other realistic destination for Mbappe would be England, given the financial power of the leading Premier League clubs.