If Kylian Mbappe had his way, Paris Saint-Germain would have sold Neymar this summer. It’s one of the reasons why the French star now wants to go herself. Their relationship is described as “at breaking point”.
Base Ego is the source of a story that is already threatening to become one of the most sensational of the year and may even reach its climax during the World Cup.
The way was set by the most sensational story of the summer. When Mbappe shocked the football world by turning down Real Madrid and opting to stay at PSG, there were a number of informal terms to his formal signing of a new contract.
Admittedly, some of them had a lot of logic. Aware of the perception of useless indulgence that had spread across PSG after so much European humiliation, Mbappe insisted on transforming the team and defining an appropriate ideology.
He felt the club’s literal place in Paris – at the heart of one of the world’s three most prolific producers of football talent along with Sao Paolo and south London – was wasted. Mbappe wanted the team built around young French talent to also play a more modern pressing game. That had an obvious meaning. There have also been talks about his position, with Mbappe saying he prefers to play down the middle. That’s why Marcus Rashford has been targeted as he has been targeted as the ‘ranger’ around the world who can do a lot of work for Mbappe.
PSG chose some of these young talents over the summer but that’s where the problems started first.
Newly installed sporting director Luis Campos, who is seen a lot in the Mbappe camp, wanted and needed to get more players out. He found Antero Henrique far too slow, meaning much of the squad stayed the same.
Back in August, this caused frustration for Mbappe and Campos.
By then, however, another problem had arisen. For most, that wouldn’t be a problem at all. Neymar and Lionel Messi came back in sensational form. They had clearly been working over the summer to get themselves in top form for the World Cup and it showed.
They were the center of attention again. They deserved all the attention.
They also played better than Mbappe, frankly.
This could still see PSG finally win the Champions League but posed a problem for other plans.
With Messi looking so stagnant last season and Neymar still losing something, it seemed like the time was right for Mbappe’s rise to the middle to coincide with his new contract. That was his era.
It was anything but before. Despite plans for a more staggered formation with Mbappe and another striker at the helm, just like Olivier Giroud with France, new coach Christophe Galtier felt he simply had to stick with the previous trident. It looked better than ever.
Messi has been sacked.
Still, some emotions were dammed up. While it looks like the three should be able to work together on the pitch, it wasn’t that easy in the dressing room. There is a distant relationship.
The feeling in the Mbappe camp is that there’s really only room for two of the three on the pitch and Messi is favoured. After all, he is the master Mbappe can learn from.
While the 23-year-old has a tactical and political maturity superior to most players, others are speaking of a star whose ego is spiraling out of control.
In public and on social media, everyone has seen the images of Mbappe just standing in the middle of the pitch when no pass was due to him.
Privately, sponsors have found an overly indulgent player who began demanding deals that other players with superior careers would not dream of. Some blame the camp around him. For all the criticism of the infrastructure surrounding Neymar, it is said to be slick in terms of the commercial system and Neymar senior knows he is no expert. The Mbappe camp has instead seen staff leave in frustration. The parents were also central in the negotiations with Madrid and PSG.
Sources are now describing “a war within” the French club that could bring another makeover. After the initial reports, Campos denied he is about to leave and some of the issues – but there was silence from the Mbappe camp. There’s still a feeling that Campos could leave the club. If he does that could put Galtier in a precarious position as the manager was his choice. Henrique was expected to use his own man.
A whole host of new signings would need to be made, which could also bring new complications as Messi is expected to return to Barcelona once his contract expires in the summer.