Mbappe open to new challenge away from Paris

Kylian Mbappe beating Dijon goalkeeper Runar Runarsson to the ball in their French Ligue 1 game on Saturday. The Frenchman scored twice in PSG's 4-0 win to bring his league tally for the season to 32, four behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi, his rival f
Kylian Mbappe beating Dijon goalkeeper Runar Runarsson to the ball in their French Ligue 1 game on Saturday. The Frenchman scored twice in PSG's 4-0 win to bring his league tally for the season to 32, four behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi, his rival for the European Golden Shoe. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe fuelled speculation surrounding his future on Sunday, saying he wants "responsibilities, maybe at PSG, maybe elsewhere".

The 20-year-old backed up his outstanding World Cup campaign in Russia, where he scored four times as France lifted the trophy, to net 38 times in all competitions for his club this term.

He was named both the Ligue 1 Player of the Season and Young Player of the Year on Sunday, but hinted at a move away from the French champions.

After claiming his prize, he told beIN Sports: "It (the award) is an important moment for me, a turning point in my career... I am whole. When I say something, I think about it. If it's at PSG, it's good, if it's elsewhere, it will be elsewhere for a new challenge."

Mbappe has been regularly linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid since his breakthrough with Monaco's 2017 Ligue 1 title-winning team. Instead, he made the switch to PSG last summer on loan, and will seal a permanent deal for €180 million (S$276.2 million) this year.

But since Zinedine Zidane's return to the Real dugout earlier this year, rumours about Mbappe joining his compatriot at the Santiago Bernabeu have intensified.

This season, the forward has stepped up another gear with teammate Neymar - the only player to be sold for more money than him in football history - out injured for a significant part of PSG's campaign.

Mbappe has followed in the Brazil international's footsteps by winning the highest individual domestic accolade, although he needs to score five in the last league game against Reims this weekend to snatch the European Golden Shoe from Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

He said it was "a source of pride to think that maybe I kept up with him until the last game", adding: "I tell myself that even if I lose (the scoring race), I lose to Messi, one of the greatest players in history."

He became only the second teenager, after Brazil legend Pele, to score in a World Cup final during France's 4-2 triumph over Croatia and his departure would be a blow for PSG. They were knocked out in the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United in embarrassing fashion this season.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has, however, claimed that "there are no opportunities for other clubs to buy Kylian this summer".

The German, whose job is under serious pressure after their European humiliation and failure to win multiple trophies for the first time since 2013, insisted: "I've always been convinced that he'll always be our player. This is important to achieve all our objectives."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Mbappe open to new challenge away from Paris'. Print Edition | Subscribe