Kylian Mbappe left PSG as their greatest talent – ​​but not universally liked


In the end, Kylian Mbappe's departure to the Parc des Princes was reminiscent of his time at Paris Saint-Germain.

There was another goal, another trophy and one step closer to another record – the first player in French football history to win the top-tier Golden Boot in six consecutive seasons.

A tifo was placed by the club's militants in the Auteuil stand before kick-off to honor his legacy – an image of his trademark celebration, with folded hands. There was also a banner that read: “Child of the Parisian banlieue, you have become a PSG legend.”

But the game was not a complete celebration of his seven years in Paris. Yes, there were songs in his praise, but there were also some jeers and whistles when his name was read out before kick-off. The night would end with lifting the trophy but also with a defeat to Toulouse, only PSG's second defeat of the campaign. Luis Enrique called it his worst performance of the season.

Given the impact Mbappé has had on PSG, his departure was devastating. The main focus of the evening was on the title win rather than Mbappé's farewell. PSG celebrated their 12th Ligue 1 win, a feat that brings clear daylight to the pinnacle of French football, now two clear of Marseille and Saint-Etienne. This was also the club's 50th major trophy. It was welcomed with a spectacular party, organized by the famous Parisian musician Thomas Roussel.

Mbappe's announcement – ​​which was made in a four-minute video via his social media channels on Friday – was preceded by little notice of anything else. There was no concurrent statement or post from the club. They were surprised.

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Mbappe will leave PSG – what does this mean for him, the club and Real Madrid?

But Mbappe could not leave PSG without explanation before the club's final home game of the season. Weeks of speculation about his future went no further. He has not revealed his destination, which everyone in Paris expects will be Real Madrid, but he confirmed that, this time, it was indeed goodbye.

How he will be welcomed by the Parc des Princes for the last time will always be a matter of focus. Will the supporters cheer him? At first glance, it might seem strange not to appreciate the club's greatest goalscorer, but this is PSG and this is Mbappé, and the off-field drama of the past seven years has hardly had any effect.

hThere were hints of this in the Goodbye Hai video; Mbappé thanked almost everyone at the club, including all his former coaches. However, there was no reference to club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi or former sporting director Antero Henrique.

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Kylian Mbappe and the PSG team celebrate their Ligue 1 title win (Frank Fyfe/AFP via Getty Images)

This past season alone may have contributed to this. After informing the club that he wanted to leave at the end of his contract, rather than triggering the option to extend it for another year, PSG told him he would have to extend his deal or be sold. He was then unceremoniously put on the 'Bomb Squad', a group of transfer-listed undesirables, and omitted from the club's pre-season tour of Japan and South Korea.

It was the latest episode of the Mbappé-PSG soap opera. In 2022, he was set to sign for Real Madrid, but he made a late U-turn and signed a lucrative contract. A year ago, the summer was dominated by speculation about his future. Much of his tenure at the club, to a certain extent, felt like a very long goodbye. That can be tiring.


Kylian Mbappé's talent


Mbappé was probably aware of this. On Friday, after his announcement video, Mbappé attended a barbecue with club militants in the Parc des Princes. From the outside looking in it seemed like an act of goodwill before he left. Last season, Mbappé was part of the team that was abused while receiving medals for the Ligue 1 title, but he avoided the worst of it and their relationship rebuilt over time.

Throughout this season, despite off-field speculation, he has not been troubled by extremists. On Sunday, there were a few loud whistles before kick-off, but after full-time, during the trophy lift, match announcer Mitchell Montana gave them a triple name call. After the warm-up there was also Tifo. Mbappé went to welcome the militants and saw that the tifo was raised in front of him. Along with this, Mbappe chants also happened.

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A giant tifo depicting Mbappé is raised before kick-off last night (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

It was fitting, because despite everything, PSG will still remember him as their best Parisian. He was born in Bondy, on the outskirts of Paris, and returned to the capital before his 26th birthday, breaking several records for the club.

His goal against Toulouse took him to 256 for the club, increasing his status as the club's all-time leading goalscorer. For PSG, he also has the most goals in Europe, most hat-tricks, most 'doubles' and most goals conceded in a game (five). He has helped France win the World Cup, scoring in consecutive World Cup finals including a hat-trick, winning the tournament's Golden Boot, and becoming captain of the national team.

This is his sporting legacy and fans will remember him for all this too. His goal on Sunday was a prime example, featuring a burst of incomparable pace, excellent control and a superb finish – but he also played in an era at PSG that will not be remembered favourably.

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Mbappé celebrates his last league goal for PSG against Toulouse (Frank Fyfe/AFP via Getty Images)

It has been a time of politics, player power and fundamentally unfulfilled ambitions for the club in the Champions League. It's a period that ended with disillusionment, a feeling that was defined by fan protests last summer, which is now beginning to fade away as the club moves towards a new era away from superstar players and a new identity. .

Over time, Mbappé will surely be remembered more fondly at his best as a talent and a club icon.

However, for now, PSG and their supporters are impatient for a new chapter to begin.

Fans will look back fondly at his greatness, but as Sunday demonstrated, the noise off the field will remain in the memories. The sentiment welcoming his departure is not entirely affectionateDespite all that has been achieved.

(Top photo: Frank Fyfe/AFP via Getty Images)




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