PARIS (Reuters) – Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe started the Ligue 1 season to the booing of the Parc des Princes crowd, but his jaw-dropping performances eventually won the fans back as the France forward led the club to a record-equalling 10th top flight title.
After saying he wanted to leave the club a season before his contract expired, the 23-year-old became the target of the supporters’ anger.
Once he was told he had to stay, however, he never let his disappointment show.
Instead, he was the only player beyond reproach in a season that saw PSG once again bow out early in the Champions League, squandering a 2-0 aggregate lead in just 15 minutes in the last 16 against Real Madrid.
That disappointment left fans frustrated and angry at the whole team – except for Mbappe, who scored both goals in the tie.
He is the only player to have won over the Parc des Princes urtlas, and he looks set to end the season as the first player to top the standings both for goals and assists.
So far, he has scored 22 and set up 14, meaning he has had a direct role in almost 50% of PSG’s league goals, eclipsing both Neymar and Lionel Messi, who have played supporting roles with sometimes mediocre displays.
Neymar once again struggled with injuries and has only shown his talent sporadically, while Messi, who joined to much fanfare during the close season, has yet to fully adapt to a new league and a new team.
The Argentine forward has set up 13 goals but scored only four in Ligue 1, leaving Mbappe alone in the limelight.
The attacking trio, hailed as the most formidable front three in Europe before the season kicked off, only really clicked late in the season.
Whether they will do better next term is anyone’s guess as Mbappe’s contract expires in June.
Discussions are ongoing in Doha, where owners Qatar Sport Investment are based, but sporting director Leonardo said he did not know whether Mbappe would sign a new deal with the club.
“Kylian speaks and says things clearly. I really believe what he says. He is in deep thought,” Leonardo said after Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against RC Lens that earned PSG the Ligue 1 title with four games left to play.
“I think he hasn’t made up his mind. He knows what we wants, we know what he thinks. That’s why I think it’s a question of timing. He is thinking deeply so as to make the best decision.
“(Whether next season we are) with him or without him, it is true that this changes everything.”