Real Madrid are not hiding their desire to sign Kylian Mbappe but Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino insists he can’t imagine the France superstar playing for another club this season.
Mbappe is out of contract next June and his future has dominated headlines in France and in Spain since Lionel Messi’s shock move from Barcelona to Paris last week.
In Madrid they believe Mbappe does not want to share more of the limelight with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. “Madrid are not giving up,” said the cover of sports daily AS on Thursday.
PSG, meanwhile, want to keep the 22-year-old to complete a dream front line with Messi and Neymar.
Whether Real make their move before the August 31 transfer deadline remains to be seen, but Mbappe is in no rush to extend his contract at the Parc des Princes.
Nevertheless, while Neymar and Messi build up their fitness following extended summer breaks, Mbappe has played a starring role for his club at the beginning of the campaign.
He set up the decisive goal as PSG won 2-1 at Troyes on the opening weekend and then created three goals as Pochettino’s team beat Strasbourg 4-2 last Saturday.
“Kylian seems in good shape, he is motivated and working very hard to have a good season. That is what we are all thinking about,” Pochettino told reporters on Thursday ahead of PSG’s trip to Brittany to play Brest on Friday.
“Kylian is our player and I don’t see him being anywhere else this season.”
The speculation about his future led to Mbappe being jeered by some PSG supporters before the Strasbourg game, but Pochettino insisted the France World Cup winner was taking it in his stride.
“Kylian is preparing for tomorrow’s game. The only conversations I have with Kylian are about football,” the Argentine added.
“He has a year left on his contract, if he doesn’t renew it. We are happy with him and from what I see he is happy with us too.”
On Thursday Pochettino gave little away when asked if Messi might make his debut for his new club in the slightly ramshackle surroundings of Brest’s Stade Francis-Le Ble.
It would be quite the contrast to the Argentine’s glitzy unveiling before a packed crowd in Paris last weekend, but PSG may give the 34-year-old more time to get ready.
Neymar, Marquinhos, Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria and new goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma are also yet to make their first appearances this season.
“He has given us so much in the last few days,” Pochettino said of Messi. “There is a great atmosphere in the squad and he has settled in very quickly.”
Player to watch: Konrad de la FuenteA winger who moved to Ligue 1 this summer from Barcelona. Sound familiar? De la Fuente may be no Messi, not yet anyway, but he is a thrilling talent, as his first two appearances for Marseille attest.
The 20-year-old USA international joined on a four-year deal from Barcelona, where he made just three appearances last season. Playing on the left, he has looked dangerous for his new club, helping them take four points from a possible six. On Sunday, De la Fuente and Marseille face Mediterranean rivals Nice.
32 - In millions of euros, understood to be the size of Brest’s entire operating budget this season. That is three million euros less than Messi’s reported annual salary in Paris.
19 - PSG are unbeaten in their last 19 top-flight meetings with Brest.
6 - Newly-promoted Clermont have a perfect six points out of six after winning their first two Ligue 1 games. If they beat Lyon they will become the first team to win their first three matches in France’s elite since 1945-’46.
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