Mbappe reinstated by PSG but Neymar ‘probably leaving’

Kylian Mbappe has been reintegrated into PSG’s first team after ‘constructive talks’ (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)

French superstar Kylian Mbappe was reinstated in Paris Saint-Germain’s first team on Sunday just as Neymar was said to be negotiating a move to join the cash-rich Saudi league.

It has been a rocky build-up to the new Ligue 1 season for champions PSG with both Mbappe and Neymar left out of new coach Luis Enrique’s team for Saturday’s underwhelming opening goalless draw against Lorient.

After being sidelined for several weeks amid an ongoing contract dispute Mbappe watched from the Parc des Princes stands.

But the club’s prize asset is now back in the fold, for the time being at least.

“After very constructive and positive discussions between Paris Saint-Germain and Kylian Mbappe before the PSG-Lorient match, the player was reinstated in first team training this morning,” PSG said in a statement.

Brazilian star Neymar was in contrast conspicuous by his absence on Saturday, the official line being he was suffering from a “viral syndrome”.

A source told AFP on Sunday that the 31-year-old Brazilian forward “no longer figures in the club or manager’s plans”.

Neymar, who joined PSG for a record 220 million euros ($241m) from Barcelona in 2017, is “probably leaving”, the same source added.

Neymar was said to be in talks with a club from the Saudi Pro League.

French sports daily L’Equipe reported that Al-Hilal is the club that has tabled the offer.

Last month Al-Hilal made a 300-million-euro ($328 million) bid for Mbappe, though the striker reportedly refused to meet with officials from the team.

Neymar underwent surgery on his right ankle in early March, only returning to join PSG on their pre-season tour of Asia.

His time at PSG has been blighted by a catalogue of injuries.

Although he helped the club to the 2020 Champions League final he has often been sidelined for key games.

If Neymar does end up moving to Saudi Arabia he will join a growing list of top players lured to the oil-rich kingdom since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Al-Nassr in January.

– Mbappe stand-off –

After a summer of flux at the Parc des Princes filled with new arrivals, doubts over Neymar’s future and Lionel Messi’s departure, it is the Mbappe stand-off that dominates the headlines.

The France captain has refused to sign an extension to his PSG deal, meaning he can leave for free next year, with Real Madrid long seen as his preferred destination.

Qatari-owned PSG want to sell him now and bring in a significant transfer fee for a player who cost 180 million euros ($198 million) from Monaco in 2017.

“The position is very clear. If Kylian wants to stay, he must sign a new contract. We can’t let the best player in the world today leave for free. It’s impossible,” PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi said last month.

Mbappe had not been allowed train with the first team and played only one of PSG’s five warm-up games and was not invited to the pre-season tour in Japan and South Korea.

He sat alongside fellow 2018 World Cup winner Ousmane Dembele, who completed his transfer from Barcelona earlier Saturday, as Luis Enrique handed debuts to six players against Lorient.



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