The story is known and belongs somewhat to his personal legend, that of a boy self-programmed for his current destiny. In Bondy (Seine-Saint-Denis), the very young Kylian Mbappé held imaginary press conferences like others projected themselves with a tennis racket into a future guitar-hero.
At 23, the Paris-Saint-Germain striker is already more than just a footballer who came to discuss in the auditorium of the Parc des Princes a simple three-year extension of his contract with the club of the capital. days earlier. This Monday, May 23, he is almost alone on stage. Stage fright does not exist. The answers fuse (in English sometimes) and the president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, gives the impression of providing the first part of the “best player in the world”.
With Mbappé, everything goes very quickly. Legs, words and repartee too. A matter of training. The young man absorbs the pressure, he integrated it from the start. “I haven’t had a particular problem with the pressure, because I’ve had it since I was 14,” he says when asked about the long soap opera’s potential mental fatigue on whether or not to leave. Real Madrid.
Black suit and matching tie, he displays a broad smile. In the front row, his clan drinks his words. There is his father, Wilfried Mbappé, his mother Fayza Lamari, his brother Ethan and his lawyer Delphine Verheyden. While the prodigal son continues the interviews in small groups in the lodges of the Park, the parents are still surprised to be amazed by the maturity of their offspring.
The decision to stay in Paris, “Kylian” made alone last week after considering the two generous offers. They were the first informed before Nasser Al-Khelaïfi and the president of Real, Florentino Perez, whom the player called in person to decline – in Spanish in the text – his proposal.
Because we must not insult the future and the most successful club in the world, the 2018 world champion prefers to put on form. “I didn’t say no to Real, I said yes to France and a new PSG project. I had the call of the homeland and the capital, “he told several representatives of the written press, including Le Monde.
“Let us be proud of us too in France”
The formula sounds a bit Gaullian. Mbappé above all sells a story. If he linked his career until 2025 to a club whose Europe has been savoring the consummate art of gadin in the Champions League since its takeover by Qatar in 2011, it is because he believes in the “project” , has the opportunity to finally learn from his mistakes, but also to serve his country. Just that.
When foreign countries have been the natural horizon for French talent since the end of the 1990s, he evokes his attachment to France. “We don’t have to see ourselves prettier than we are, but France is an important place in football. I had the chance to travel and when you go to other countries, believe me, they are proud. It would be nice if we were proud of us in France too. »
In the Mbappé software, false modesty has never been installed. The top scorer of the last four seasons in the French championship knows his value. After all, the numbers and facts speak for themselves. He knows that there is a Ligue 1 with or without him. And in the second case, its attractiveness would take a serious hit in the wing.
“I am French and as a Frenchman I want to continue a little, to lead France to the heights and to pull this championship and this club”, he assumes. The paradox is that this loyalty is above all made possible because PSG has a Qatari tiger in the engine to financially compete with Spanish, English, German or Italian engines.
Emmanuel Macron may be wearing an Olympique de Marseille jersey on vacation, the President of the Republic has established a privileged relationship with the number 10 of the Blues and his parents. To the point of guiding the choice of Paris. “We exchanged a lot of times, we will say that it was good advice, admits the striker. He wanted me to stay. He is one of the various people I spoke to about football. »
At this precise moment, Kylian Mbappé realizes the vertiginous side of the situation and of his words. Between a war in Ukraine and a composition of the government to be validated, the host of the Elysee Palace discusses transfer window with him. “This is where we see that football has changed and that it has an important place in society. But it’s important to stay in your place despite the importance that can be given to me. »
For PSG, an exercise in self-celebration
But what is she now measuring up to at PSG, who is now “the cornerstone of the project”, according to the expression of its president? Behind the good words and the smiles, Kylian Mbappé also knows what not to say. If he has obtained guarantees, he refrains from mentioning which ones.
“Kylian didn’t ask for anything in particular, cut Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, he just wants to win, win and win again”. On his left, the player claims to know his place. He leaves the captain’s armband to Marquinhos and even less claims an unofficial hiring manager title. “I remain a football player, anchored in a collective, I will not go beyond this function. »
Everyone is free to believe it. In football, a status matters and influences. Kylian Mbappé does not need to send a registered letter to his management to say all the good things he thinks of Luis Campos, known and much appreciated since his time in Monaco. A random ? The Portuguese is tipped to replace Leonardo – removed from office without flowers or crowns overnight from Saturday to Sunday – as sporting director. “I don’t know who Jorge Campos is,” quipped “NAK” to a reporter angry with the first names.
For the president of PSG, this media exercise was an opportunity to celebrate himself. Failing to have won the Champions League before the World Cup in Qatar (November 21 – December 18), he retained the “best player in the world”, he insists. As for the new sports project, the leader will wait before revealing the outlines.
For the moment, the signing of Kylian Mbappé at the bottom of a contract is enough to erase the memory of a season without relief. Outside the Park, hundreds of supporters lit smoke bombs and chanted their happiness with the well-known swear words in the direction of their Marseille or Madrid counterparts. Like a campaign candidate, the Bondy prodigy took a moment to come and greet them. At that time, you would have sworn that he had also trained there in front of the mirror of his childhood room.