France captain Kylian Mbappe is embroiled in a contract dispute with Paris Saint-Germain (Anne-Christine POUJOULAT)
French superstar Kylian Mbappe has been left out of Paris Saint-Germain’s season opener on Saturday deepening the stand-off between the France captain and the Ligue 1 champions.
As Mbappe’s contract dispute with the Qatari-backed club rumbles on PSG announced a new signing – Ousmane Dembele on a five-year-deal from Barcelona.
He is the ninth summer arrival at a side which has lost Lionel Messi to Inter Miami, and may soon be facing up to life without Mbappe.
In an affair that has dominated transfer market headlines Mbappe 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.
PSG want to sell him now and bring in a significant transfer fee for a player who cost 180 million euros ($198m) 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 has 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.
Despite his sidelining Mbappe was one of the first to welcome Dembele to the Parc des Princes.
“Welcome home my brother, so happy to see you here, the adventure begins,” Mbappe posted on social media to greet Dembele with whom he won the World Cup in 2018.
The 26-year-old Dembele joined Barcelona in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund and had extended his contract last year until 2024.
PSG took advantage of the player’s 50 million euros ($54 million) release clause to sign the former Rennes forward.
“I’m very happy to join Paris Saint-Germain and can’t wait to play in my new colours,” Dembele said in a PSG statement.
“I hope to continue to grow here and make all who love the club proud.”
– Ninth signing –
Dembele, who has 37 caps for France and scored four goals, joins three other World Cup winners at PSG — Mbappe, Presnel Kimpembe and Lucas Hernandez.
He is the club’s ninth summer signing after defenders Milan Skriniar and Lucas Hernandez, midfielders Manuel Ugarte and Cher Ndour, forwards Marco Asensio, Lee Kang-in and Goncalo Ramos and goalkeeper Arnau Tenas.
At Barcelona, despite early problems adjusting to the Catalan side and injuries, Dembele scored 40 goals in 185 matches, winning three league titles in 2018, 2019 and 2023 and two Spanish Cups 2018 and 2021.
PSG are bolstering their attacking options with the futures of Mbappe and also Neymar uncertain.
“The passion and determination shown by Ousmane when he joined PSG is fantastic and is the attitude required for all our players,” said Khelaifi.
“We are proud to have another French World Cup winner in Paris Saint-Germain at the moment to enter a new great era for our club.”
New PSG coach Luis Enrique also left out Brazilian Neymar from Saturday evening’s game with the forward suffering a “viral syndrome”.
The club are reported to be open to selling the former Barcelona star and Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, who has also not been called up against Lorient.
Enrique is expected to start three newcomers in attack – Lee, Portuguese Ramos and Spaniard Asensio.